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10-01-2010, 01:13 AM #1
Advantage India at favoured venue
A Test series between India and Australia should be enough to whet the appetite of any cricket fan. But is that true of a contest spanning only two matches? We're about to find out. The abbreviated nature of the trip notwithstanding, the Border-Gavaskar Trophy is up for grabs. India are the holders after their 2-0 win at home this time two years ago, but much has changed since then. Australia entered that tour ranked No. 1 among Test teams and India were third. MS Dhoni's men are now at the top of the list, while the Australians have slipped to fourth. If Australia lose the series, they'll fall to fifth and begin the Ashes ranked lower than England.
Watch out for...
It has been a heady couple of years for Suresh Raina. In that period, he has managed to force his way back from the wilderness through some compelling performances in the IPL, and done well in the shorter formats for India. Injury to Yuvraj Singh gave him a rare opening into Test cricket and he latched on with a fine debut century against Sri Lanka. That innings was testimony Raina's mental fortitude but, coming as it did on a flat track against a friendly attack, it did not say much about his technical prowess. Questions remain over Raina's ability to handle the bouncer and the next few months, including a tour to South Africa, offer him a chance to address those concerns. At some point over the next five days, Johnson and co. are going to test Raina with the short stuff, possibly with the help of the second new ball. How will he respond?
Pitch and conditions
The Australians spotted a tinge of green on the pitch after heavy rain in Mohali, adding to the likelihood they would play just one specialist spinner. However, there is a chance the normally quick surface might play a little slower than usual due to the weather. It was here two years ago that Peter Siddle announced himself by thumping Gautam Gambhir on the helmet with his first ball in Test cricket. Dhoni admitted the difficulty in predicting how the pitch would play. "We will have to see the wicket tomorrow. It looks a bit damp, it's been watered a bit. It looks like a good track. There may by a bit of skid for the fast bowlers," he said.
Stats and trivia
...being a human...
- Over the last ten years, Australia have lost more Tests to India than they have won. India are the only team that can boast of this record over Australia for the decade
- During that period, Australia are the only team to have beaten India in a series at home
- No bowler has dismissed Ricky Ponting more times in Test cricket than Harbhajan Singh, who has claimed his wicket on 10 occasions
- With the retirement of Muttiah Muralitharan, Harbhajan is now the leading wicket-taker among active Test spinners, with 357
- Michael Hussey and Simon Katich, who started their careers as opponents in Under-13s cricket in Perth, begin this series each having played 52 Tests and each having scored exactly 3981 runs
Ricky Ponting, on the other hand, is not losing sight of India's standing
"Whenever I play against the Aussies and perform, I feel good. I will try to perform even better this time so that next time when the next series happens they should again take my name first."
Harbhajan Singh gears up to play his favourite opposition