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Pre-match briefing: India vs Australia - 3rd Test

India welcome a depleted Australian side at Mohali for the third Test of the Border-Gavaskar trophy for 2013. India go into the third Test with an unassailable 2-0 lead. India have dropped Sehwag for the third Test, while Australia have axed 4 players – Shane Watson, Usman Khawaja, Mitchell Johnson and James Pattinson, for not complying to the team’s orders.

Australia also have doubts about Matthew Wade, and Brad Haddin has been called up as cover. India are expected to play Shikhar Dhawan in place of the Nawab of Najafgarh. Australia’s only solid performer on the tour has been their skipper Michael Clarke, while the others have failed, except for Moises Henriques in the first Test.

Australian cricket captain Michael Clark

Talking about the pitch for the game, the Mohali surface will provide assistance for the seam bowlers, unlike the spinning tracks in Chennai and Hyderabad, on which the Aussies were completely clueless. This will trouble the Australians, keeping in mind that only James Pattinson, who was axed due to disciplinary reasons, has been able to trouble the Indian batsman, while Siddle and Starc have failed. On the other hand, Ishant Sharma has started to find his rhythm, while Bhuvaneshwar Kumar was unplayable sometimes in the previous game. The spinners, with the help of the conditions, ran over the Australians.

However, India also has problems. They haven’t found a solid top-order opening pair since Fletcher arrived. Under Gary Kirsten, India looked almost impossible to beat on any track, but now they seem vulnerable away from home. Ravindra Jadeja has not enjoyed batting in Tests till now, but his bowling tactics seems to be absolutely spot on.

On the other hand, Ashwin can be a handy batsman at times. Sachin seems to have got back his form. Vijay and Dhoni, subject to much criticism, have been a major part of India’s victories, and Chetashwar Pujara has, as always, been rock-solid. India have also showed that even without Dravid and Laxman, Test cricket still exists.

India v New Zealand: 2nd Test - Day Two

PCA president IS Bindra said that the groundsmen here have curated a ‘competitive pitch’.

“We have done exactly this (made a competitive pitch) so that spectators also enjoy and players also put in their best,” he said.

I expect a great comeback from the Australians, as they need a strong rebound if they are to keep the series alive. Australian spinners Doherty and Lyon haven’t had the best of starts on Indian wickets, but I expect them to perform better on a competitive pitch. Also, I hope that strong crowds come to watch the game.

MY EXPECTED LINE-UPS

AUSTRALIA:

Ed Cowan, David Warner, Philip Hughes, Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin (if Wade is still out through injury), Glenn Maxwell, Steven Smith, Moises Henriques, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Xavier Doherty

INDIA:

Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin TendulkarVirat Kohli, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar

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