It’s a matter of a clean sweep for India and a face-saving win for Australia when the two sides meet in the fourth and the final Test of the series at Delhi. We’ll bring you live coverage of the action throughout the day from 3.00pm AEDT.
Australia’s tour of India has turned out to be a nightmare for the visitors.
Down 0-3 after the third Test, Australia’s problems have been compounded by Michael Clarke’s back problems going into the final game.
And let me now even broach the four-man suspension topic, one that could well be a line-in-the-sand moment in Australian cricket – and not entirely for the reasons that coach Mickey Arthur would want.
Speaking of problems, Arthur’s received lot of criticism from fans, necessitating him to shut down his Twitter account between these two Tests. That, I suspect, will be the least of his woes though.
What could be a problem is that an inexperienced Australian side could go into this Delhi Test match without their most experienced batsman and captain, Michael Clarke.
A decision on his availability will be taken on the morning of the Test match but even if he manages to get fit in time, his back will need to be monitored throughout the Test.
In the eventuality of his absence Shane Watson will take over the captaincy role.
The same Watson who threw his toys out of his pram on being suspended for the previous game after crying out against the ‘harsh’ treatment.
Then there will be the selection headaches associated with Watson’s return in case Clarke did find himself fit before the game.
If Watson has to be selected, one of Phil Hughes or Steven Smith might have to sit out, which could be a shame given the way both batted at Mohali. This could also mean that Usman Khawaja will miss out yet again.
The bowling line-up will see the return of James Pattinson who could join Peter Siddle in their two-and-a-half-pronged pace attack – with Moises Henriques being the other.
There is a school of thought that suggests that Siddle could be rested for this game given his workload all summer with Mitchell Johnson taking his place.
India have a selection problem on their own. Shikhar Dhawan had a mixed three days at Mohali and after his blizkrieg of a 185, he was resigned to the confines of the dressing room having injured his hand. He will miss this match.
With Dhawan out and Gautam Gambhir suffering from a bout of jaundice, it will be down to one of Ajinkya Rahane or Suresh Raina to make it to the Indian XI.
Rahane is the recognised opener but India haven’t been too averse to pushing middle-order batsmen up the order and converting them into reluctant openers to fit in an awkward piece of jigsaw that does not belong.
If Raina, who is one of captain MS Dhoni’s trusted lieutenant’s at the Chennai Super Kings in the IPL, is selected ahead of Rahane, it will only mean that Cheteshwar Pujara will have to go up to open the innings. In the longer run, this move hardly makes sense.
Speaking of the pitch at the Feroz Shah Kotla and it is a typical Indian surface – it will be slow and keep low from very early. This may not be as bad a thing as some may reckon for the visitors given that R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have grabbed a bunch of their wickets because of the terrific bounce they have got from pitches in the first three games.
Shorn of bounce, it could lead to the spinners struggling over the first couple of days or so till at least before it becomes very difficult to counter the low nature of the track.
Eight of the last nine Tests played at the Kotla have had results with India losing only one of them – way back in 1987. Interestingly the only drawn game featured Australia – a high-scoring encounter that saw the visitors slam 577 in their first innings.
What would the Australian team give to get themselves those many runs again!
Live coverage of the game begins from 3.00pm AEDT and enjoy the end of the working week with some Test matches cricket and if you’re following along, leave your opinion in the space below.