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October 25, 2003
If the past record at Gwalior is any indication, then India should come out on top in their TVS Cup match against Australia. In seven one-day internationals at the Roop Singh Stadium, India have won five and lost just two, a success rate of 71%. For Australia, Sunday's match will be their first one at this venue.
Batting first is the best way to win here. Out of nine ODIs, the team batting first has won six. That victory ratio is maintained in the day-night matches as well, with the team batting first winning two out of three. The only team to win while chasing a target is India, who have achieved the feat three times - in back-to-back games against England in 1992-93, and then again in the 1996 World Cup against West Indies.
Australia's best chance, though, lies in batting first: India's two defeats here - against West Indies in 1987-88, and, shockingly, against Kenya in 1998 - came when they were set 260-plus targets, and fell way short.
The nature of the pitch can be gauged from the fact that seven out of nine times, the team batting first has scored in excess of 250. No team has made more than 300, though: Pakistan's 289 against Sri Lanka in the Independence Cup in 1997 remains the highest score. The average score of the team batting first is 258.
There hasn't been much joy for the bowlers here, but of the few crumbs that have gone their way, the seamers have taken the lion's share, with 80 wickets at 31.94, at an economy rate of 4.65. The spinners, by contrast, have only taken 35 wickets, at 45.57 runs apiece, conceding 5.1 runs per over. For Anil Kumble, though, Gwalior has been a happy hunting ground. In five ODIs he has taken eight wickets at 24.88.
A rare venue where Sachin Tendulkar has struggled for runs. Six innings have fetched him a meagre 132 runs at 22, with three single-digit scores and only one half-century. Rahul Dravid only has 47 from two ODIs here, but Sourav Ganguly will have fond memories of this ground - in his only ODI here, in 1999-2000 against New Zealand, Ganguly smashed an unbeaten 153, contributing almost 59% of India's total of 261. An abscess in his leg has ensured that there will be no encore on Sunday.
S Rajesh is assistant editor of Wisden Cricinfo.
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