The 4th Test of the Border Gavaskar Trophy between India vs Australia begins from today at the VCA Stadium in Nagpur.
The Border-Gavaskar Trophy heads for a climax with much more at stake than the bragging rights in cricket’s most enthralling current rivalry. The events of the next five days in Nagpur will be watched with keen interest not just in Mumbai and Melbourne but in London and Lahore and across the cricket world. Do Australia have the mettle to perform under this intense pressure? And will India’s new captain, now in a permanent role, apply his usual attacking instincts when a draw will give him the series?
M Vijay, the Tamil Nadu opener, who had a successful Ranji season last year and scored a double-century in the season-opener this year, has left that match mid-way to get his Test cap. Dhoni said in his pre-match conference that Vijay will open the innings. Harbhajan, too, makes a comeback, to take Kumble’s place. India won’t be fiddling around with the rest of the combination.
India: 1 M Vijay, 2 Virender Sehwag, 3 Rahul Dravid, 4 Sachin Tendulkar, 5 Sourav Ganguly, 6 VVS Laxman, 7 Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt, wk), 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Zaheer Khan, 10 Amit Mishra, 11 Ishant Sharma.
Jason Krejza could make his debut, but the important question, in case he comes into the side, is whose place does he take? Although the three fast bowlers haven’t put Australia in winning situations, it could be difficult to drop any of them. Mitchell Johnson has been their leading wicket-taker, Brett Lee improved considerably in Delhi, and Stuart Clark has been the only one to have kept the runs in check. If Krejza does debut, Cameron White will be the most likely casualty, but then again with only five specialist batsmen in the side they would like the cushion White provides at No. 8.
Australia: 1 Matthew Hayden, 2 Simon Katich, 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Hussey, 5 Michael Clarke, 6 Shane Watson, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 Cameron White, 9 Brett Lee, 10 Mitchell Johnson, 11 Stuart Clark, Jason Krejza.
Pitch & conditions
The 22 most important yards are a big unknown in this Test. This will the first first-class match for the new VCA Stadium in Nagpur. According to Ricky Ponting, the pitch is “rock hard like concrete and there’s no grass on it”.
“With no history to the wicket, we don’t know if it’s going to bounce, or stay low, or what it’s going to do. One thing I know is that it is going to spin, it’s so bare. Hopefully we win the toss,” Ponting said.
“This match is so important because we’ve played well in the series, played well from the very first game. That’s why this game is so important. We need to stick to the basics, and do what we have been doing from the first game. I don’t think there’s any added pressure or responsibility on the side.”
Dhoni reckons India are not under extra pressure in a match that could win them the Border-Gavaskar Trophy
“This is probably as big a Test match as a lot of us have played. Being 1-0 down with a match to play is a position that a lot of us haven’t been in before. We pride ourselves on playing well in big games, and this is certainly a big game for us. There is a great opportunity for us to stand up, and play better cricket than we’ve played in the first three Test matches.”
Ponting chalks down the challenge in black and white
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