If Australia have their priorities right, then they certainly have a strange way of exhibiting it. With the ODI series going down to the wire after the teams were locked 2-2 after Nagpur, the expectation was that the teams would play their hearts out in the Bangalore encounter. Hence, both teams were expected to field their best eleven for the Deepavali day clash at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Saturday.

But Australia, apparently, have the preparation for their Ashes series against England later this month as their main concern. They have consequently sent back their best bowler, Mitchell Johnson. The visitors' official line is that he has been asked to prepare for the longer duration matches, the first being a domestic tie starting Wednesday.

Whether this move is to lull the Indians into complacency or a sign that the Australians have given up on the series is unclear. But surely Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh, who were both troubled by the pacy Johnson's bowling, will not be complaining.

Yuvraj, with scores of 7, 0 and 0 was Johnson's bunny in all the three innings while fellow-left hander Raina (39, 17 and 16) was marginally better. With their tormentor not in the fray, both these batsmen will look forward to making their mark in the series.

This will be a tremendous Deepavali bonus for India's cricket fans. The pyrotechnics of the top three in the batting order - Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli - have already primed fans for their version of extreme cricket.

Chillingly - for the opponents that is - Kohli confessed that steering the Indian team past the victory post gave him an incredible high. He called it a tremendous drug and hoped to partake of it as often as possible. And which Indian cricket fan, after witnessing his bludgeoning of the Oz attack in Jaipur and Nagpur, won't agree!

Pointedly Kohli said that recent changes in ODI rules forced teams to play five specialist bowlers and the days of the bits and pieces cricketer were over. "These days we target specific bowlers and with just four fielders permitted outside the ring a batsman's job becomes easier," he admitted.

India's beleaguered bowlers will certainly agree. While Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been on the ball in the opening overs, he has struggled like the rest in the second powerplay.

The other main bowler, off-spinner R Ashwin, looks lost without the additional fielder in the deep. To be fair, bowlers on both sides have looked out of their depth on these flat tracks. The challenge for the skippers has been to keep the bowlers' spirit up and MS Dhoni, the original captain cool, seems to be doing a better job at the moment.

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