It's advantage India against Australia (Preview)
Mohali, March 13 (IANS):
It will be advantage India against a depleted Australia side in the third Test match that begins Thursday at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium here.
With only 12 players to pick a team from, Australia are under huge pressure. The onus of ending their two-match losing streak looms large under the backdrop of the suspension of its four players Monday due to breach of discipline.
The Australia team management Monday suspended four of its players including vice-captain Shane Watson for not doing a homework. Along with Watson, James Pattinson, Usman Khawaja and Mitchell Johnson were suspended for the Test.
With Australia trailing 0-2 in the series, all the players were given five days to prepare a feedback on how they could improve. But the four players failed to meet the deadline, and paid the price.
While Watson and Pattinson would have been automatic choices, Khawaja and Johnson also had a strong chance.
The inexperienced Australia batting line-up will have a tough time against the Indian spinners. However, the good news for them is that skipper Michael Clarke is in form. Clarke has scored one century and two half-centuries in the four innings he has played so far.
Clarke has a tricky situation at hand to select his team from a bunch of inexperienced players. However, the arrival of Brad Haddin, as a cover for injured Matthew Wade, brings in some experience in the side.
Wade, who bruised his ankle during a basketball game here, is yet to pass the fitness test and if he does, Clarke may even think of playing Haddin as a specialist batsman replacing an out-of-form Phil Hughes.
It is also to be seen where Clarke comes out to bat since he had already announced following the innings loss in Hyderabad that he would prefer to bat higher than No.5.
The absence of Pattinson and Johnson will be a big blow for Australia on a track that offers some bounce for the fast bowlers. Peter Siddle will lead the pace attack while Mitchell Starc comes back after missing the second Test. Glenn Maxwell, Xavier Doherty and Nathan Lyon will be jostling for the two slot for the spinners in the team.
The big news for India will be the debut of Delhi batsman Shikhar Dhawan who will replace citymate Virender Sehwag, who was dropped after failing in the first two Tests, averaging just nine.
When it comes to bowling, Pragyan Ojha is likely to retain his bench in the pavilion as India will likely retain its winning combination.
Ravichandran Ashwin has been very impressive taking three five-wicket hauls, with a best of 7/103. Harbhajan Singh has taken wickets though not regularly. Lack of wickets could prove to be trouble for him in the future.
Ironically, Ravindra Jadeja has been even more effective than Harbhajan. Firstly, he has taken more wickets than Harbhajan and, secondly, important wickets of men-in-form like Clarke and Wade at crucial junctures of both the matches.
Lanky pacer Ishant Sharma will be playing his 50th Test and the Mohali pitch should assist him. Mohali will be the bounciest track of the series and Australia should perform better here than anywhere else.
Interestingly, Australia last won a Test in India in October 2004 in Nagpur and since then they have lost seven including two in Mohali.