Perth, Jan 12: The pre-match talk surrounding the third Test between India and Australia has been around the 22-yard strip at the WACA Ground.
Both teams have been greeted with a greenish wicket and captains Mahendra Singh Dhoni of India and Australia's Michael Clarke might be tempted to go in with an all-pace attack for the match starting on Friday, January 13.
The conditions in Perth might not be that friendly for Indian batsmen who have so far struggled to put up a considerable total on the board. Barring the effort in the second innings of the second Test in Sydney, they haven't played to their reputation since the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.
In this backdrop, Perth is not the ideal place to be coming after two defeats. However, Dhoni and his men can draw inspiration from that historic victory at the same venue when Anil Kumble was at the helm in 2008. India had bounced back tremendously from the 'Monkeygate' controversy involving Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds in the Sydney Test.
During their previous tour Down Under in 2007-08, India entered Perth in similar situation. They were 0-2 in the four-match series and they turned it around. India's most senior batsman and Mr. Reliable, Rahul Dravid had made a match-high of 93 in the success four years ago. The team will be hoping that he comes good again after having not enjoyed a good run.
One more worry for "The Wall" is that he has been bowled three times in four innings. But known for his tight defence, he would have worked harder and might be due for a big one in the third Test. Dravid summed it up two days before the start by saying: "It's always nice to come and play in these conditions. It's like an Australian team coming and playing on a rank turner in India, and winning a Test match. We would like to do the same thing again."
Sachin Tendulkar, aiming for his 100th international ton, will have fond memories of Perth where he had struck a century as a teenager. He still rates that knock in 1992 as one of his best. Tendulkar has been in good nick but has failed to convert those scores into a big hundred.
Dashing opener Virender Sehwag will again be the key to provide the team with a good start. Gautam Gambhir found his rhythm back in the second innings of Sydney and will be confident.
VVS Laxman, the ever dependable man when India is up against the Australians, has so far failed to make an impact against his favourite opponents. There has been debate whether to drop him and hand a debut to young batsman Rohit Sharma. However, Laxman deserves to keep his place and may be Dhoni might look at taking a call on the struggling Virat Kohli.
The bowling attack from India's point of view might remain the same with Zaheer Khan leading the pack. After a good beginning in Melbourne, Umesh Yadav was off the boil in Sydney. He should enjoy conditions in Perth and so is Ishant Sharma. Whether Dhoni will flirt with the idea of playing one more seamer instead of off-spinner R Ashwin remains to be seen. There are R Vinay Kumar and Abhimanyu Mithun in the squad to be called up.
For the hosts, young pace sensation James Pattinson has been ruled out due to an injury and Ryan Harris will take his place. Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle will join Harris while Clarke has the dilemma of whether to continue with the spin of Nathan Lyon or bring Mitchell Starc in.
The venue is ideal for the home team to reclaim the Border-Gavaskar Trophy which has been with India since 2008.
Come Friday morning and Team India will have one last chance to save the series and put an end to the streak of six successive Test losses abroad. Can they do it?
India: Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Virat Kohli, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain, wicketkeeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Zaheer Khan, Umesh Yadav.
Australia: David Warner, Ed Cowan, Shaun Marsh, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey, Brad Haddin, Nathan Lyon, Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris, Mitchell Starc.
The match starts at 8 am IST. Login to www.thatscricket.com for live scores.