Wednesday 23 January 2008 

Adelaide Test Preview - Both Sides With All To Play For

Debate about who is going to be selected for the fourth and final Test match of the Australia-India series in Adelaide continues unabated.

With Australia leading 2-1, it is important for them to get back on track from their disappointing defeat in Perth. India, on the other hand, will try and continue their form from Perth and push the Australians hard.

Winning this Test match will draw the series but will not be enough to regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy but India would be able to take a moral victory over this Australian side, which many believe is coming to the end of its golden period.

Australia are currently considering their options for the Adelaide Test with spinner Brad Hogg pushing for Shaun Tait’s place in the starting eleven.

Captain Ricky Ponting expressed his side’s troublesome selection issues ahead of the fourth Test starting tonight (0100 GMT). "We've just got to toss up in our head whether a spin option is the way to go or if we try to use pace with variable bounce later in the game. When you've got a wicket taker like that (Tait) in the wings it gives you lots of options but it makes your decision pretty difficult as well."

Tait, on his home ground, may get the nod over Hogg, handing Michael Clarke and Andrew Symonds the opportunity to show what they can do again with their part time spin.

Matthew Hayden will play instead of Western Australia batsman Chris Rogers, who didn’t make an impact on his debut at his home ground during the third Test. Hayden has recovered from his hamstring injury that kept him out of Australia’s defeat. Ponting added, "You are going to miss guys of his calibre - he is one of the all-time great opening batsmen that have ever played the game."

Similarly, the Indians are toying with their team’s selection. The main question is whether they will continue with the winning side from Perth that stopped the Australians claiming a world record 17 victories in a row, or bring Harbhajan Singh back as a fifth bowler on a much slower wicket. The question would therefore be 'which of the batsman would be replaced?' Wasim Jaffer is the most likely to depart with Virender Sehwag doing reasonably well on his return to Test cricket and offering the option of some useful off-spin.

If Anil Kumble does take the option of a fifth bowler, then it would be up to Rahul Dravid or Irfan Pathan to open the batting. With India chasing the series, it would not be a surprise to see India being positive, and choosing Harbhajan Singh to bolster their bowling line up.

Over the last 12 years, India are the only team to win against Australia at the Adelaide Oval. With Sachin Tendulkar playing his last match in Australia, (Brian Lara hit 226 in his last Test match in Australia – also in Adelaide) maybe India can pull off an incredible comeback in the midst of a quite fascinating series, both on and off the field.

Pierce Morley-Barnes
© Cricket World 2008