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Thursday, 6 November 2008

India vs Australia Fourth and final Test

New captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Wednesday promised India would cope with the "crucial" loss of banned top batsman Gautam Gambhir as they chase a Test series win against Australia from Thursday.

India will hand Murali Vijay his Test debut in the absence of opener Gambhir, who has top-scored with 463 runs to help his team to a 1-0 series lead but lost his appeal against a one-match ban for elbowing Shane Watson.

Gambhir's loss is one of a number of distractions for Dhoni, who is playing his first match as full-time captain after Anil Kumble's retirement. The match will be ex-skipper Sourav Ganguly's last before retiring and Venkatsai Laxman's 100th.

"Gambhir's absence will be crucial because he was the man in form and scored a lot of runs. A good start is what really matters and then you can capitalise on it to put a big score on the board," said Dhoni.

"Right now we are planning to go with newcomer Murali Vijay as he has been doing very well in domestic cricket. We have confidence in him and hopefully we get the start we need," he added.

"We don't want to put pressure on him and want him to play his normal game. We know the opposition always tries to put pressure on a debutant."

Dhoni pledged not to be sidetracked by the celebrations involving Laxman and Ganguly and said he would not feel extra pressure in his debut as full-time skipper. The wicketkeeper has deputised as captain in two previous Tests.

"I don't think these are distractions. It makes no difference whether I am a stand-in or regular captain," Dhoni said.

"We are focused on the things we need to do here. We have prepared well and executed our plans well in this series and that's the most important thing," he said.

"It's a big match but we don't want to put pressure on ourselves. We just need to stick to the basics. Whatever we have being doing till now we need to do the same here. We have to go out and play up to our potential."

Australia skipper Ricky Ponting said his team needed to be at their best in a match they must win to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

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