India v Australia, 4th Test, Delhi

India chase historic whitewash

The Preview by Siddarth Ravindran

March 21, 2013

Comments: 76 | Text size: A | A

Match facts

March 22-26, Delhi
Start time 0930 (0400 GMT)


Shane Watson at the Sydney airport before his departure to India
Shane Watson will have a huge task on his hands © Associated Press
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Series/Tournaments: Australia tour of India
Teams: Australia | India

Big Picture

"This is a young Australian team. They are even getting beaten on their home grounds consistently. We should defeat them easily and a 4-0 whitewash is a real possibility." When Harbhajan Singh said those words at the start of the tour, most people laughed it off as a gratuitous jibe based on wishful thinking. A day ahead of the final Test, though, a whitewash looms as an all-too real possibility.

The series victory comes as a salve for India, smarting after the home defeats to England. What will be particularly pleasing for Indian fans is that the win has been built on the back of a new generation, shorn of most of the stalwarts of the past decade. Of the middle-order heavyweights only Sachin Tendulkar remains; India's most successful opening is on the sidelines, long-time pace spearhead Zaheer Khan hasn't played in months and Harbhajan remains a bit-part player even after his career was handed a lifeline at the start of the series.

Most of India's heroes have been players in the early stages of their Test career - M Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. Whether they can thrive in unfamiliar overseas conditions is a debate for later; for now they are spearheading India's charge towards a fourth victory in the series - an unprecedented feat for the team.

From being pilloried for their defeats in Test cricket, India now have an outside chance of finishing the series as joint No. 2 in the rankings. Australia, on the other hand, had the No. 1 within their grasp a few months ago but, after a dreadful tour highlighted by indiscipline, injuries and technical ineptness, could slip down to fourth. Shane Watson and the rest of the "gang of four" are back after sitting out the Mohali Test but Mitchell Starc has become the latest to pull out of the tour due to an injury, and Australia's captain Michael Clarke is still nursing a bad back which could keep him out of Delhi. If Australia manage to avoid the whitewash from here, it will be a huge achievement.

Form guide

India WWWDL (Last five matches, most recent first)
Australia LLLWW

Watch out for...

One Test after being axed for indiscipline, calling the punishment "very harsh" and that he would weigh up his future, Shane Watson could return not just to the team, but as Australia's captain. There are question marks over his relationship with Clarke, and there are still plenty of people sceptical about his Test performances. Having given up bowling in this series, he hasn't yet delivered a substantial score in his four innings. It extends a fallow spell that has yielded just one half-century in 12 Test innings. Ahead of an Ashes-heavy season, Watson needs a big performance in Delhi.

Ravindra Jadeja has his share of doubters, and few thought he could deliver at the Test level, but he has been convincing as a second spinner so far in this series. Not only has he kept things tight, he has dismissed Australia's best batsman five times, and his 17 wickets in the series are more than the combined haul of Australia's spinners. He hasn't yet made a significant score with the bat, though there were a couple of cracking boundaries to ease India home in Mohali.

Teams news

India had sent Shikhar Dhawan for the pre-match press conference in Mohali ahead of his debut, but it wasn't Ajinkya Rahane who faced the press ahead of this game. That doesn't necessarily rule out a long-awaited debut for Rahane, but it indicates that the team management have not yet made up their minds about blooding him.

India (probable) 1 Ajinkya Rahane, 2 M Vijay, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Sachin Tendulkar, 5 Virat Kohli, 6 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Pragyan Ojha, 10 Bhuvneshwar Kumar and 11 Ishant Sharma.

With Clarke not training on Thursday, it is unlikely he will play the Test, leaving Watson in charge. Phillip Hughes has probably done just enough in the Mohali second innings to save his place, while Xavier Doherty's underwhelming performances should see him on the bench. Moises Henriques will also be a nervous man ahead of the game, after having failed to build on his bright debut.

Australia: (probable) 1 David Warner, 2 Ed Cowan, 3 Phillip Hughes, 4 Shane Watson (capt), 5 Steven Smith, 6 Matthew Wade (wk), 7 Glenn Maxwell, 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 James Pattinson, 10 Peter Siddle, 11 Nathan Lyon.

Pitch and conditions

Delhi is one of India's favourite venues, having won eight out of nine Tests there since losing to Viv Richards' champion side in 1987. Given the vast gulf in quality between the spinners in the two sides, it will surprise no one if the Kotla track turns out to be a turner. It is nowhere near the peak of summer, but Delhi will still be warm, with temperatures in the mid-30s.

Stats and trivia

  • The last time Australia lost four Tests in a series was during the Ashes in 1978-79, and their only 0-4 whitewash was against South Africa in 1969-70
  • Fast bowlers have had a difficult time in recent years at the Feroz Shah Kotla, averaging 43.57 since 2000

Quotes

"Till the time the ball gets old, I have to play the defensive role of trying to contain the batsmen. Everyone has been assigned a specific role and we perform our roles accordingly."
Ishant Sharma

"Of the eight times their batsmen have passed 50, they've passed 100 six times and 200 twice. We've had eight instances where we've passed 50, but we only have one century to show for it."
Michael Clarke

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by g.narsimha on (March 22, 2013, 5:06 GMT)

-It became fashionable to few prominent comentators pretend as IND fans but say all demeaning, degrading things on our team , our greats like SAHWAAG,SACHIN & others who contributed to INDIAN cricket taking it to no=i in tests making IND cricketing power house , every IND supporter wants to leave behind the horible white washes & look forward but few are still taking pleasure out of it , i wonder they are not deferent from our friends across the border .really surprised to see some claiming that even if IND white washes AUS there is huge deference wow u cant digest u r own teams seccess strange .

Posted by aby_prasad on (March 22, 2013, 4:02 GMT)

Last time I checked, ashes series wasn't the final of the world test series. Every other series is like a step to culminate in the ashes for both eng and aus. I wouldn't be qualified to say whether thats bad/good for them but for other teams it sounds funny and a bit arrogant to put it mildly. No dont play the indo pak card, we dont consider it as much as how the ashes are considered by aus n eng, at least not anymore. That being said, I have a feeling contrary to many that Australia would win the ashes. There is nothing like a wounded tiger (as England have shown, India have shown now etc) and the aussies are bound to come back roaring! and vent all their anger into their batting and bowling. England be prepared! As for the technicalities of it, like this batsman or that bowlers form, we all know that one match can turn it around and then we sing praises of them again!

Posted by GRVJPR on (March 22, 2013, 4:00 GMT)

Ojha misses out in Hydrabad, Harbhajan misses out in Mohali, Dhawan,Gambhir & sehwag misses out in Delhi. If match at Mumbai Sachin?

Posted by   on (March 22, 2013, 3:57 GMT)

Still no Khawaja - this is absolutely ridiculous!! - that is all

Posted by GRVJPR on (March 22, 2013, 3:48 GMT)

Why MS Dhoni keep loosing the toss and keep winning matches??

Posted by   on (March 22, 2013, 3:23 GMT)

I think India is thinking too much at the moment. Australia even though their morale is down, is a very good team. If Mitchell Johnson and Pattinson in addition to Watson comes on board, they will be very good team. If warner, watson and haddin come good in their batting in the first innings, they could create a chaos for Indians. I am expecting an exciting match in Delhi.

Posted by adshroff on (March 22, 2013, 3:19 GMT)

I remember We lost 0-4 in Australia . Now is Australia turn for 0-4 in India. keep this Indian Team For SA tour.Next 5 Days are Our days. Good luck !!!

Posted by Dhanno on (March 22, 2013, 3:14 GMT)

I was not discussing who dominated the series. But what was the response of the losing side. I saw 3rd test, I did not see Aus response to be defeated before ball is bowled. Infact they scored 400+ in 1st innings, made IND stretch to win the game on day 5. rewind to 3rd test in Aus: india couldnt post 200 in a innings and body language, go through cricinfo articles to get in-depth review. India scored once about 300 in whole tour, that too in a innings defeat on an almost subcontinental pitch in Sydney.

I know everything about how india got the #1 title. But I am not blind to the fact that indian players/ fans/ administrators gave all sorts of excuses during that 8-0 and then the 11-1 defeat. So kindly look at the facts, as I said 4-0 might happen here, and i agree australian team is limited in talent (sad given that ashes is coming) but india was in a way arrogant and dismissive in defeat which made some of the better informed fans to turn against them I guess.

Posted by GRVJPR on (March 22, 2013, 3:00 GMT)

The way England in Struggling number 7 kiwis shows how extra poor pitches in india allowed english spinners to win a lottery. It was really a surprise cosidering the way South Africa thrashed poms at their own backyard.

Posted by Dhanno on (March 22, 2013, 2:48 GMT)

@Shan/sanj,prodigy. Thanks for making that point, was the gist of what i wanted to say.

@ Screamingeagle. I would say indian personnel were not inept on paper, but actually acted worse than that.

@maddy. Australia gave their best (which i would agree is about "below avg" on international Scale). But they made sure india sweated to get over the line in 3rd test. compare this to 3rd test in Eng/ Aus. India was demoralized and chasing leather/folding like paper-ville while batting. We were going through motions and nothing else.

@gautam. we probably watched different series. Aus fought on 5th day in mohali, ppl put in hard shift, they could have just rolled over and let india get 130 in 20 overs. Cowan and co are not saying we will see you guys in Aus/ these pitches are doctored. That is more honorable than the excuses indians gave. And Yes i believe Sehwag/ Gambhir/ kohli/ SRT are far better players but they all resorted to excuses as series progressed in Aus/Eng. Thats giving up.

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Tour Results
India v Australia at Delhi - Mar 22-24, 2013
India won by 6 wickets
India v Australia at Mohali - Mar 14-18, 2013
India won by 6 wickets
India v Australia at Hyderabad (Deccan) - Mar 2-5, 2013
India won by an innings and 135 runs
India v Australia at Chennai - Feb 22-26, 2013
India won by 8 wickets
India A v Australians at Chennai - Feb 16-18, 2013
Match drawn
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