Boxing Day Eve
The elevens are fixed. People have called Australia troubled and unsettled, but they’ve named their eleven a day earlier than they’d normally do. India have made it quite clear that Zaheer, Ishant and Umesh will start. Given there are four left handers in Australia’s top six, it’s a no brainer between Ashwin and Ojha. Add to that, a century in the last test he played. The only spot I still have a little doubt on is the No.6 for India. Kohli has done well with a century in the three day game but Rohit has been scoring too, quite heavily since his return from injury. Pattinson and Hilfenhaus generally aren’t bounce-you-out bowlers and Siddle is the one who is most likely to resort to more of short stuff. Considering that, Virat may be given a go. But clearly, when playing bounce becomes a bigger criteria, something that will happen in Perth, Rohit has to edge out Kohli. Personally though, I’ll have Rohit Sharma at No. 6, given his recent weight of performances, the confidence that has come along and his grit of late.
Well, this is the third test of the Aussie summer. I have one observation, which makes me feel there is a huge element of fortune involved. On a week where thunderstorms are predicted, the Sun plays hide and seek, at least on three days. In the Brisbane test in the first week of this month, Australia had all the good fortune. The Sun stayed behind the clouds when Pattinson and Siddle were running in, and just when the Kiwis folded up, the Sun came out. Generally, post lunch sessions were bright periods but you never know, post tea sessions could be mixed bags. Morning sessions were always favouring bowlers and both teams should strictly make it a point to see off the first sessions. Only Sehwag and Warner are entitled runs in the morning.
Australia have made fine selections. Cowan was the only opener with tons of recent first class runs and thankfully, Phil Hughes has been replaced. Watson is still injured and that could be a blessing for Australia. He hasn’t played too much cricket recently and Warner is very high on confidence. His body language in the Big Bash league showed he’s in prime cricketing form. Marsh is too good to be out of this team. Ponting has been given a long, long rope, considering his ‘presence in the team’. This is clearly his last chance. I’d pick Ashwin to trouble Ponting the most, given his susceptibility to off spin.
Hussey is simply being tagged along with Ponting for no valid reason. Yes, he’s not made big runs recently but he is not making technical blunders that Ponting continues to make. My top two Aussie batsmen to watch out for in this series would be Hussey and Marsh.
Hilfenhaus is a class act. His captain in Tasmania has assured that he’s using the crease better. Even in case, the ball doesn’t swing much, he has an excellent short ball to trouble the Indians. I remember he was the only threat when Australia played tests in Mohali and Bangalore, in their latest visit to India.
On current form alone, Pattinson is the biggest threat. I would call this a relentless bowling attack, very close in quality to Anderson, Broad, Bresnan and Tremlett. India will need much more sunshine than what they got in England. Although Nathan Lyon should offer some respite, I’ll look forward to Gambhir vs Lyon. That should be a classic.
Coming to India, Gambhir and Dravid have to bat out all the gloomy periods. I’d imagine Gambhir is highly susceptible to this particular attack. All of Hilfenhaus, Siddle and Pattinson bring the ball towards Gambhir’s pads and he’s a huge candidate for bowled and LBW. He should be very cautious about his drive towards mid wicket. Dhoni has very candidly admitted he’s not too strong technically. He’s due for some serious contribution in test matches, as both batsman and captain. I’ll pray there is no repeat of his moves in England this year. Because having your bowlers fit is just a pre-requisite. It serves no cause if there are going to be poor fields and horrendous bowling changes. Zaheer has let India down on quite a few occasions now. Personally, I still think he’s overrated. This is another chance for him to make a lasting name, but I believe Ishant and Umesh will pose more problems to Australia.
Another key in this series will be finishing off a tail quickly. Siddle and Pattinson are handy tail enders. Haddin is a crazy test batsman and will keep giving chances. It will be heart breaking if there is a repeat of Trent Bridge, ’11. Pacers should continue to bowl full and bowl normal to the tail enders. Ashwin should be on from one end, as he is most likely to get them, and keep them tight.
Here’s hoping the thunderstorms stay away.
Time to welcome back WILLIAM MORRIS BILL LAWRY!!!