Australia v West Indies, 3rd Test, Adelaide
November 24, 2005
A lowdown on the Adelaide Oval, venue of the third Test between Australia and West Indies
Brian Lara scored a superb 182 the last time he played at Adelaide. An encore would do just fine for the struggling West Indians
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So far in this series, Brian Lara has been a pale shadow of his usual confident self, managing just 102 runs in four innings (and 41 in the Super Test before that). But the Adelaide Oval - the venue for the third Test - might just spark a revival: this is the only ground in Australia where Lara has scored at least a fifty in each of the three Tests he has played here. In the first one, in 1992-93, he managed 52 in the first innings; in 1996-97, he struck 78 in the second; and in his most recent appearance there, in 2000-01, he hit a magnificent 182. An encore would put him within touching distance of Allan Border's record Test aggregate of 11,174 - Lara currently needs 213 to equal the mark.
In fact, the entire West Indies team have generally performed much better here than in most other venues in Australia. Apart from Perth, where they have won five out of six times, West Indies have tasted maximum success at Adelaide, where they have won five matches and lost just four in 12 Tests. Australia's success rate is almost 50% - 31 wins from 63 matches. (Click here for the results of all Tests at Adelaide.)
And for those who think Adelaide is a venue which mostly produces stalemates, sample this stat - in the last 14 Tests here, going back to India's game there in 1991-92, only one match has been drawn game, between Australia and South Africa in 1997-98. Since that match, seven Tests here have all produced results. Australia have had a pretty good run here too, winning eight of the last nine matches which ended decisively. The only exception was in 2003-04, when India pulled off a memorable four-wicket win.
Les Burdett's pitch has been a good one for the batsmen first up almost every time, but by the time the fifth day comes around, bowlers tend to be on top: check out the runs per wicket in the four innings since 1995 - 43.34 in the first, 38.70 in the second, 28.58 in the third, 22.09 in the fourth. Not surprisingly, the captain winning the toss has chosen to bat the last 11 times. The last time a captain inserted the opposition in was in 1991-92, when Mohammad Azharuddin put Australia in. In a thrilling game, India went down by 38 runs.
The pitch is also one which offers a bit to both fast bowlers and spinners. In matches since 1995, the pace bowlers have taken 231 wickets at 34.45, at a strike rate of 68.01; for spinners, the corresponding numbers are 140 wickets at 33.09, with a wicket every 68.44 balls.
Australia will go in with both legspinners for the game, but neither Shane Warne nor Stuart MacGill will have particularly fond memories of the Adelaide Oval: Warne has only managed 44 wickets in 11 matches at a touch over 30, with only one five-for, while MacGill's 15 wickets have come at almost 44 apiece. Glenn McGrath, though, has impeccable figures here, as usual: 41 wickets in eight matches at less than 20, though even he hasn't managed a five-for here.
Among the Australian batsmen, Adam Gilchrist is the only one who hasn't come to terms with the conditions here; Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer and Ricky Ponting all average more than 50.
S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo.
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