Australia v India, 3rd Test, Perth January 12, 2012

Hosts eager to seal series


Match facts

Friday, January 13, WACA
Start time 1030 (0230 GMT)

Big Picture

Once again, Australia arrive in Perth with a 2-0 series lead over India. This time, however, the circumstances are mightily different from those that faced the combatants in 2008. Then the dust was settling from Monkeygate, now the only dust is that of India's fragile batting, which has folded all too easily in four innings so far. Australia's 2008 team were also agitated and distracted by the Harbhajan Singh/Andrew Symonds case, and senior players spent as much time deliberating over that issue as they did worrying about how to defeat India at the WACA. This time Michael Clarke's team is happier, more settled and certainly better focussed on the task of sealing the series. India seem to be lacking the spark that they had entering the '08 match, fuelled as it was by their defence of Harbhajan, who has not made this tour.

The hosts, of course, are not entirely without problems. The inexperienced top order was brushed aside by Zaheer Khan in Sydney, and will need to fight for traction in Perth, while the spinner Nathan Lyon will want to be more impactful than he had been in Melbourne and Sydney. That is, if he is chosen - a well-grassed surface is tempting Clarke and the selectors to consider including Mitchell Starc as well as Ryan Harris for the Test, as a four-man pace attack provided Australia with their only win of last summer's horrid Ashes campaign.

India, meanwhile, have happy memories of the victory in '08, but appear far less galvanised than four summers ago. Ishant Sharma returns to the place where he first made his name, twice dismissing Ricky Ponting in that match, the second time at the end of a spell remembered by all who saw it. So far on this tour he has bowled better than his figures suggest, and may need to bowl a fraction fuller on the bouncy WACA deck to gain the wickets his team needs from him. Among the batsmen, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman are under particular pressure to offer decent support for Sachin Tendulkar, who has looked in fine touch so far, even as he is continually dogged by the barrier of 100 international centuries.

Form guide

Australia: WWLWW (most recent first)
India: LLDWW

Players to watch ...

Ryan Harris is at once Australia's most capable pace bowler and also the team's most tenuous. His battered body succumbed to a hamstring problem in Sri Lanka then a hip ailment in South Africa, cancelling him out of the Test plans for the remainder of 2011 as the team performance manager Pat Howard decreed that Harris had to get fit enough to bowl for five days on the run. To that end he has been eased back into the squad, training in Melbourne, carrying out the duties of 12th man in Sydney and now into the team in Perth where his nine wickets helped bring England briefly to heel last summer. In the absence of the injured James Pattinson, Harris' speed and swing will ask the most impertinent questions of India's batsmen - provided he can stay physically sound.

Depending on what you read, Virender Sehwag is either the reason India's tour is going badly, or the best man to pull his team-mates out of their current slumber. His fearless approach to batting has so far looked chancy in Australia, resulting in one Melbourne innings that was exciting but edgy and three cheap dismissals thereafter. Sehwag has battled to find his best batting rhythm against a concerted attack on his off stump, and can expect more of the same in Perth. However the WACA ground is a place where free-spirited openers can score with tremendous speed once they get going - see Roy Fredericks' effort in 1975-76 for ultimate proof - and Sehwag is well and truly due for a major score.

Team news

The only conundrum for Australia is whether to play the spin of Nathan Lyon or the pace and swing of Mitchell Starc. Though he battled for consistency in his first two Tests against New Zealand, Starc has shown the benefits of time spent with Wasim Akram this week, bending the ball late on a full length, with his high-arm action affording plenty of bounce. Lyon, though, is the sort of spin bowler who may benefit from the WACA's bounce and breeze.

Australia 1 David Warner, 2 Ed Cowan, 3 Shaun Marsh, 4 Ricky Ponting, 5 Michael Clarke (capt), 6 Michael Hussey, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 Peter Siddle, 9 Ryan Harris, 10 Ben Hilfenhaus, 11 Nathan Lyon/Mitchell Starc.

Virat Kohli and VVS Laxman are expected to hold their spots ahead of Rohit Sharma, while Vinay Kumar's fast medium may be considered if India decide on an all-pace attack.

India (probable) 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Gautam Gambhir, 3 Rahul Dravid, 4 Sachin Tendulkar, 5 VVS Laxman 6 Virat Kohli, 7 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 8 R Ashwin/Vinay Kumar, 9 Zaheer Khan, 10 Ishant Sharma, 11 Umesh Yadav.

Pitch and conditions

India took some getting used to how green the WACA pitch appeared when they first arrived in Perth, but the January heat should allow it to dry out sufficiently to provide a fair Test surface. Close observation has revealed the grass to be of finer consistency than last year's, which may mean less seam movement than was gained during the Ashes match. Either way, there should be plenty of pace and bounce on offer.

Stats and trivia

  • Michael Clarke, Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey are the only current members of the Australian team to have taken part in the 2008 Perth Test
  • By contrast, India have retained Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, MS Dhoni and Ishant Sharma
  • Tendulkar returns to the scene of one of his most celebrated centuries - 114 against Craig McDermott, Merv Hughes, Mike Whitney and Paul Reiffel on a speedy pitch in 1992
  • A win or a draw would return the Border-Gavaskar Trophy to Australian hands for the first time since 2008


"Everyone who comes and watches cricket in Perth wants to see batsmen ducking and weaving out of the way of short balls, batsmen getting great benefit for their shots down the ground, lots of square-of-the-wicket shots being played. If we get a fast, bouncy one [surface] this week, then I'm sure with the batting talent on display you'll see a lot of great highlights throughout."
Ricky Ponting is gleeful about the prospect of a pacy pitch

"It's always nice to come and play in these conditions. It's like an Australian team coming and playing on a rank turner in India, and winning a Test match. We would like to do the same thing again."
Rahul Dravid summons the spirit of '08

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on January 13, 2012, 1:43 GMT

    @ umar saud ... mate - why dont you look at the Indian squad composition before commenting .. Varun Aaron is sitting injured at home in Pune , India - we really miss his pace here else . all we have are fast medium 'seamers' like vinay kumar and mithun who are fromn the karnataka quota. Sad we cant even have an option beyond the three pacers playing . and please dnt get started on Irfan - another converted line and length fastish spinner ala munaf . Fear for the future of indian pace attack .

  • Dummy4 on January 13, 2012, 1:17 GMT

    India Needs Munaf Patel or Praveen.

  • wayne on January 13, 2012, 1:08 GMT

    @Meety - I have to agree about Haddin...if he walked the way he talked, we'd have no problems!

  • linus on January 13, 2012, 0:53 GMT

    Big mistake I suspect to take Ashwin out. He has actually been one of the more promising batsmen and it is time to nurture a true all rounder, something the Indian selectors have forgotten. Besides, who says spin on a bouncy track will not yield dividends? How about Clarke's ball that took out Tendulkar at the SCG? On a fast, bouncy track, spin may not turn as much but it sure jumps up a good deal from the good length spot and can be a handful for batsmen to handle.

  • Cool on January 13, 2012, 0:20 GMT

    @Sateesh Thota : Do you actually know anything about cricket?

  • kumar on January 13, 2012, 0:15 GMT

    Pity that Rahane did pathetically in the practice matches. Rohit in place of Kholi would be the only change possible. And perhaps next match, Vinay Kumar in place of Yadhav if he doesnt perform well again. Ashwin can retain credentials as a batsmen.

  • Sreedhar on January 12, 2012, 23:55 GMT

    I dont really understand why Laxman is targeted and saving is spot in playing 11... he is match saver.... I definitely understand the point for juniors of getting chance...Why people dont point at some other failures Gambir..Shewag...

  • sreejith on January 12, 2012, 23:51 GMT

    India is still yet to unleash their secret weapon -Vinay kumar, The right arm wrist spinner .He can probably turn things around with his flippers and googles .Ozzies better watchout

  • Mohit on January 12, 2012, 23:49 GMT

    Boy was I wrong with the predictions going into this series.. I said India wouldn't lose any matches but its going to be a Oz whitewash. Never have I been so wrong in my 20 year career as a fan of Indian cricket team.

  • khayam on January 12, 2012, 23:29 GMT

    Indian players should play for their team rather worrying about personal milestones. Sooner or later Sachin will get his 100 international hundred. He needs to keep playing his normal game and not worry about the final hurdle. Rest of the Indian batsmen seems like pass their sell by date on this tour. It's up to the selectors to decide whether they want to stick with Laxman and Sehwag or bring younger guys and look towards future, because 2nd overseas defeat wouldn't sit well with Indian public. This is Dhoni's biggest test as captain aswell because everybody wants some changes in the team to show some fight. Knowing Dhoni I don't see many changes because failure of seniors will suit his captaincy fine. No serious challengers for captaincy.

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