Australia v India, 4th Test, Adelaide, 4th day January 27, 2008

'We want to win it for Gilly' - Clarke

Adam Gilchrist has begun his goodbyes, and his team-mates are keen on giving him a parting gift - a victory in his last Test © AFP
Rewind to December 2006 at the Adelaide Oval and you have a scenario eerily similar to this one: England rattle up 550-plus, Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke smash hundreds to help Australia match it, England end the fourth day on 59 for 1, and few are looking beyond a draw.

While England were 97 ahead then, India lead by 8. A draw still remains the most likely possibility but Australia, it seems, are the only team capable of winning from here. With the series almost sealed, they're unlikely to hold back punches. Michael Clarke has said his side will want to "win it for Gilly" and 3-1 has a more resounding ring to it than 2-1. The Sydney Test showed India's second-innings vulnerability and a fifth-day pitch would be expected to throw up some surprises.

"It will be a perfect farewell for Gilly to go out with a win," said Clarke hoping for an escape-act as sensational as the six-wicket win against England last season. "Fingers crossed and hope it goes the same as last year. It's going to be hard work but we're hoping to win the game. Once the ball gets softer it will become difficult to score. Hopefully Hogg, Symmo and myself will come into play. I certainly know Australia wants to win. And if we bowl in the right areas we could achieve that. It's a big day tomorrow."

An Indian win would require Harry Houdini-esque intervention. A team trailing the series would be expected to go all out for victory but India might have just fallen too far behind. Unlike Graeme Smith, who was tempted into a bold declaration in the Sydney Test of 2006, Anil Kumble doesn't have the luxury of runs behind him. After 350 overs of the Test, the score is effectively 0 for 8 with 19 wickets standing. That sounds more like a score you would hear in the bowls arena adjacent to the Oval.

There's could be a temptation to go all out for the win - with some suggestion that 3-1 is as bad as 2-1 - but getting the better of a draw will be some consolation. They got a life-line too, when Clarke fluffed a straightforward chance off Virender Sehwag at second slip, but got through a tough period till stumps to settle nerves.

They did themselves no favours by asking Irfan Pathan to open, especially after he bowled 36 overs in the innings and 12 in the day. Test match situations demand flexibility and the team would have been perfectly served if Rahul Dravid had been shifted up. Brett Lee was in a hostile mood and India could have been in a serious spot if the top-order was rattled. Pathan himself admitted it was difficult to open in the second innings and the team could have afforded to float him down the order.

He retained his sangfroid, though, on a day he had picked up his 100th Test wicket. It was on this very ground where the journey began and he remained optimistic about levelling the series. "Anything can happen on the last day," he said. "We need to bat well and if we put runs on the board, you never know. Australia have to bat last and nobody can say what's going to happen. The pitch will spin more on the final day and so many such matches have changed at the end."

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo