New Delhi, March 21 (IANS) India have their best chance to pay Australia back in their own coin in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series which ends with the fourth and last Test, starting here Friday.
India were thrashed four-nil Down Under, now they look good to return the compliment, having already taken an unassailable 3-0 lead at Mohali.
It is also the first time India have won three Tests on the trot in a series since they thrashed Sri Lanka in 1993-94 under Mohammad Azharuddin’s captaincy.
The history, too, is against Australia in Delhi. They have never won a Test at the Ferozeshah Kotla since 1959, when they won by an innings and 127 runs.
The three defeats have confirmed that Australia are ill-equipped to handle India’s spin. In fact, it is the back-up left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja who has caused much of the damage, picking up the wicket of skipper Michael Clarke five times in the series.
India are unlikely to tinker with the bowling attack as even the fast medium bowlers have chipped in with important wickets at crucial stages of the three Tests.
Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin is the leading wicket-taker in the series with 22 wickets at 21.40. Jadeja is second with 17 wickets at an average of 18.88. India will surely play to its strength.
Dhoni may be tempted to open with Cheteshwar Pujara, who went out with Murali Vijay in the second innings at Mohali as debutant opener Shikhar Dhawan injured his knuckles in the field. In the process, the skipper could accommodate Suresh Raina in the middle order, though ideally Ajikya Rahane should be the choice to open.
With the series gone, the Australians will be playing for pride and to prevent the whitewash. Their team is in disarray with Skipper Michael Clarke still doubtful for the match with his chronic back acting up at Mohali. If he decides to sit out, Shane Watson will lead the team for the first time in a Test.
Clarke has been suffering from a recurring back-injury that has been troubling him since he was 17. He was in great discomfort while batting in Mohali Test and received intensive treatment from physiotherapist Alex Kountouris Sunday. During the match, Clarke had to leave the field, handing over the captaincy reins to veteran wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.
The Australian skipper took part in Thursday’s practice session here after skipping it Wednesday.
Clarke admitted that back injury was affecting his performance but said it will not cut down his career.
“I don’t know if it’s as bad as it’s been. It’s not a nice feeling. It was very uncomfortable and it impacted my performance (in Mohali), in regards to not the number of runs I made but the movement. I felt I couldn’t move down the wicket because I was so restricted and I’d hate to see what the fielding side of it looked like,” he said.
Clarke said he is feeling well after some serious treatment.
“It’s slowly improving. If you ask Alex or the team doctor, they might have a different impression but, hopefully, a good day today, plenty of treatment, and I wake up in the morning, feel magnificent and I walk out and play another Test match for Australia,” he said.
India: Cheteshwar Pujara, Murali Vijay, Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Pragyan Ojha
Australia: Ed Cowan, David Warner, Shane Watson, Phil Hughes Michael Clarke/Usman Khwaja, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Xavier Doherty, Nathan Lyon
— Indo-Asian News Service