Nagpur, Dec 12: India's proud home record is under threat as they need to come from behind to not to lose the series against England in the fourth and final Test. The series, currently 2-1 in favour of the visitors, will culminate here when the fourth Test begins on Thursday (December 13).
India have not lost a Test series at home for 8 years. Call it coincidence, the venue for fourth Test, Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) Ground is the same place where India's last Test series defeat came in 2004.
Australia won on a pitch suited for them, to go 2-0 up in the four-Test rubber and won the series. Though India achieved victory in Mumbai in the final Test, it was all over for them in Nagpur.
That match is more remembered for India captain Sourav Ganguly pulling out at the last minute unhappy over a greenish wicket and Rahul Dravid took charge as skipper.
Since 2000, India have lost only two series at home. South Africa were the other team to register success here (2-0 in 2000).
Now, cut to the present, MS Dhoni and his men have a herculean effort to draw the series.
For England, if they avoid defeat, it will ensure that they pocket the series in India for the first time since 1985.
David Gower was the English captain when they won the 5-match series 2-1. The present leader of the team, Alastair Cook has led by example and he has a chance to create history after a 27-year wait.
India selectors have axed Zaheer Khan, Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh for this Test. The replacements Parvinder Awana, Ravindra Jadeja and Piyush Chawla await their chance in this crunch game.
Right-arm paceman Awana and left-hand all-rounder Jadeja are uncapped. Chawla has not played a Test for more than five years.
In Zaheer's absence, India's pace attack will be an inexperienced one. Either Awana or Ashok Dinda will replace Zaheer. Both are yet to play a Test.
With all the talk surrounding pitches in the previous three Tests, it was reported that Nagpur strip will be a "sporting one".
India's struggles are with their batting department. Best batsman of recent times, Virat Kohli has had a string of low scores this series. Sachin Tendulkar is under immense pressure to rediscover his old touch or bid adieu. Tendulkar found some rhythm back in Kolkata. It is an important game for him.
In the third Test at Eden Gardens, India lost the game in the first innings failing to post a big score. The same problems continued in the second essay too.
Of the two teams, England look more settled with their bowlers capable of taking 20 wickets to win the game. Cook, at the top of the order has been tormenting India bowlers.
A defeat in Nagpur or even a draw for home team might trigger lot of changes including Dhoni's leadership role.
India's pride is on the line and so is Dhoni's captaincy.
It's a do-or-die battle for India in Nagpur.
India: MS Dhoni (captain, wicketkeeper), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Parvinder Awana, Pragyan Ojha, Ishant Sharma, Ashok Dinda, Ajinkya Rahane, Piyush Chawla, Murali Vijay.
England: Alastair Cook (captain), Nick Compton, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Jonny Bairstow, Ian Bell, Eoin Morgan, Matt Prior (wicketkeeper), Samit Patel, Graeme Swann, Steven Finn, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Monty Panesar, Joe Root, Stuart Meaker, Tim Bresnan, Graham Onions.
Umpires: Rod Tucker (Australia) and Kumar Dharmasena (Sri Lanka)
Match referee: Jeff Crowe (New Zealand)
Play starts at 9.30 AM
First Test: India won by 9 wickets (Ahmedabad)
Second Test: England won by 10 wickets (Mumbai)
Third Test: England won by 7 wickets (Kolkata)