Border-Gavaskar Trophy: India eye whitewash, Australia look to salvage pride
Australia were outplayed and outclassed by the Indians. With 4 senior players missing the match due to disciplinary issues, winning against India was always difficult. They did manage to put up a good fight in the end, but could not deny the Indians a victory. With the last match starting tomorrow, here is a look at some important factors which are likely to decide the outcome of the match.
The Pitch: Unlike the pitch at Mohali, the one at Kotla will remain true to its reputation of being a “slow turner”. Though the pitch will be good for batting for the first two days, it will deteriorate from the third day, and thereon, the spinners will play a huge role. It is therefore no wonder that spinners like Anil Kumble have such a good record on this pitch. The team winning the toss would surely like to bat first. Ashwin and Jadeja are once again expected to be among the wickets, whereas the likes of Lyon would like to get some wickets on such a spin-friendly wicket. The pacers will have a hard time bowling here. All they can do is be consistent with their line and length, and hope that the batsmen make some mistake.
India: Though one might say that the Indian batting line-up has been in great form, it is quite noticeable that India managed to put up good scores only due to spurts of individual brilliance in every Test. Though Vijay and Pujara have been in great form, the middle order is yet to click. Sachin is yet to score something big, while Kohli and Jadeja have been inconsistent with their batting. The captain has been in good form lately, and he would like to continue his good run. With Dhawan injured, it is quite likely that Ajinkya Rahane will make his debut.
MS Dhoni would be quite happy with his bowlers. Jadeja has been a revelation in this series, and the Kotla track will surely bring a smile to his face. Ashwin has been at his usual best, while the others have also chipped in with crucial wickets.
The Indian team would be quite happy with their form heading into the last Test.
Australia: The Australians have been quite out of sorts in this series. Their batting has been heavily dependent on captain Clarke, while their bowling has not been much to boast about. With Clarke suffering from a back injury, it is likely that he will miss the last Test, but with Watson back after all the drama about the “homework”, he is likely to lead the team in Clarke’s absence. Hughes found some form in the second innings of the previous Test, while the others have been unimpressive. Their batsmen need to take a leaf out of Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen’s counter-attacking approach against the Indian spinners. With the return of Pattinson, and Siddle bowling well, their pace department is quite strong. However, the spin department is as weak as ever, with Lyon failing to capitalise on good bowling conditions. The Aussies will be hoping that he can perform better in this final Test.
Though their team is a bit shaky, the Aussies would desperately want to deny India a whitewash.
Final Take: With the series already in the bag, the Indians are likely to go for the kill and complete the whitewash, while the Aussies have nothing to lose and will come out firing on all cylinders. Yet, I would say that the Indians are clear favourites to win the match.
Australia (likely): Ed Cowan, David Warner, Phil Hughes, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke/Steven Smith, MS Wade (wk), Moises Henriques, Mitchell Starc/Xavier Doherty, Peter Siddle/Mitchell Johnson, James Pattinson, Nathan Lyon.