India, Oz ready for for final showdown at Nagpur

Published: Wednesday, November 5, 2008, 16:11 [IST]
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Nagpur: India will be looking to give one of its cricketing legends and the country's most successful Test captain Sourav Ganguly a fitting farewell as they seek to wrap up the series with a win in the fourth and final Test against Australia, beginning here tomorrow.

With Mahendra Singh Dhoni taking on the captain's responsibility post the retirment of Anil Kumble, India would like to maintain its cent per cent win record in Tests with Dhoni as the skipper.

The Test will also have a lot of important landmarks for the Indians with this being the 100th Test of V V S Laxman and with Harbhajan Singh declaring himself fit after missing the last Test with a toe injury, to pick up his 300th wicket and become only the third Indian after Anil Kumble and Kapil Dev to do so.

However, India suffered a huge blow when inform batsman opener Gautam Gambhir's one Test ban was upheld by Justice Albie Sachs on the charge for elbowing Australian all-rounder Shane Watson during the third Test.

India will thus go into the Test with a new opening combination and it remains to be seen whether Gambhir's replacement M Vijay from Tamil Nadu will get his first Test cap.

With the Test to be played at the newly constructed Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium and on a virgin wicket, no one still has any idea on how it would behave.

Nagpur awaits match of milestones

Last time, when the Aussies came in 2004, the VCA had provided a seamer friendly wicket, which saw Ganguly pull out at the last moment with injury as an excuse and he is returning here, albeit in a different stadium, to bid good bye to Test cricket forever, helping Australia break the final frontier by winning the series in India.

This time, with no one knowing how the wicket would behave it would be a safe bet to bat first on winning the toss and with India to play two spinners, it will be all the more pertinent to win the toss and bat first.

The Australians will, however, take heart from their performance in the last Test at Delhi and they would be hoping to draw inspiration from their brave batting performance in the last Test.

Australia's top-four batsmen scored 50s and Michael Clarke hit a century in a total of 577 in reply to India's 613 for seven declared before the bowlers gave India a fight by reducing them to 93 for four in the last Test, which was drawn.

It was a remarkable recovery by Australia whose shortcomings against reverse swing had been expoited during the second Test by Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan.

However, it has been the bowling department which is posing problems for Ponting and he has already hinted that the touring side might consider changes in the bowling attack after they took only 12 wickets in Delhi.

The Aussie skipper has raised the possibility of Australia playing two spinners in the fourth Test in Nagpur as they search for a way to collect 20 wickets for the first time in the series.

Nagpur Test is just another game for Dada

Ponting was also concerned about the lack of penetration from Stuart Clark, who could be the unlucky man to miss out if an extra slow bowler is added to the starting line-up. The visitors, who are in a must win situation will consider handing a debut to the offspinner Jason Krejza if the pitch looks spin-friendly. Although Krejza could directly replace the leg-spinner Cameron White, there is also a possibility of cutting a fast bowler with Shane Watson capable of providing a third seam option.

Australia, 2-1 winners over India at home this year, sealed their first series victory in India for 35 years in Nagpur in 2004 by winning the third Test by 342 runs.

But the world's top-ranked team are rebuilding after a number of high-profile retirements and are struggling particularly in the bowling department.

Teams: India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c), Virender Sehwag, M Vijay, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, V V S Laxman, Sourav Ganguly, S Badrinath, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Amit Mishra, Munaf Patel, Ishant Sharma.

Australia: Ricky Ponting (c), Matthew Hayden, Simon Katich, Shaun Marsh, Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin, Brett Lee, Stuart Clark, Jason Krejza, Cameron White, Mitchell Johnson, Doug Bollinger, Peter Siddle.


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