Adelaide, Jan 23: Can India avoid a second successive Test series whitewash abroad? Well, the answer to this will be known in the next five days as the fourth and final Test against Australia starts in Adelaide on Tuesday.
The events over the last four weeks Down Under might point to yet another Australian domination but India have the ability to bounce back. Whether that quality will be on view or not remains to be seen.
While Australian skipper Michael Clarke has declared that anything less than 4-0 verdict would be disappointing, India have an uphill task to motivate themselves and salvage pride at the Adelaide Oval.
Virender Sehwag, the stand-in captain of India, needs to play a big role if the team has to succeed for the first time in four matches. MS Dhoni was banned for slow over-rate offence in Perth Test. Wriddhiman Saha will be the wicketkeeper.
Besides Sehwag, the famed trio of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman have to come up with big scores at a venue known to help batsmen.
Clarke said on Monday that conditions in Adelaide suit India more. This statement coming from the rival captain would be a huge relief to the beleagured Indian outfit.
Failure after failure in the preceding three Tests of Melbourne, Sydney and Perth have handed the Border-Gavaskar Trophy to Australia.
What is more disturbing for an Indian fan is the abject surrender of their stars. They were thrashed by innings margins in Sydney and Perth.
And overall, this team, which was number one in Test rankings not long ago, has slumped to seven successive defeats abroad. Last year, they were blanked 4-0 by England.
The last time India were in Adelaide in 2008, Sehwag played a match-saving knock in the second innings for a draw.
The Delhi batsman should look back at that innings and draw inspiration for a big hundred. So far, no Indian batsman has managed a century.
In December 2003, India won here by four wickets when Dravid and Laxman starred with the bat. Ajit Agarkar took six wickets for 41 runs in the second innings to guide the Sourav Ganguly-led side to a famous win in Steve Waugh's last series.
The team now needs such inspirational stuff to turn it around.
For Australia, their fast bowlers, led by Ben Hilfenhaus, have been in top form. Hilfenhaus, Peter Siddle and Ryan Harris will again be back to trouble the Indians.
India might not opt for any change in batting personnel. However, offspinner Ravichandran Ashwin will return to take R Vinay Kumar's place in the eleven.
Sehwag might be tempted to bench Ishant Sharma for another spin option in Pragyan Ojha.
Australia have already named their team with offspinner Nathan Lyon returning at the expense of left-arm quick Mitchell Starc.
If at all there was one venue in Australia where the Indian bats would make an impact, it is Adelaide.
It might be the last time the trio of Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman might be seen together abroad. So it is time for them to make it count in front of the Australian crowds.
Teams: India (likely XI): Virender Sehwag (captain), Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Virat Kohli, Wriddhiman Saha (wicketkeeper), R Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma or Pragyan Ojha.
Australia: Michael Clarke (captain), David Warner, Ed Cowan, Shaun Marsh, Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey, Brad Haddin, Nathan Lyon, Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris.
Umpires: Aleem Dar (Pakistan) and Kumar Dharmasena (Sri Lanka)
Third umpire: Paul Wilson (Australia)
Match Referee: Ranjan Madugalle (Sri Lanka)
Match starts at 5.30 AM IST.
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