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November 4, 2008
Australia's preparations for Thursday's must-win fourth Test have been disrupted due to last-minute touches to the brand new ground in Nagpur. The Vidarbha Cricket Association's stadium, which has hosted a couple of trial matches, was only approved for Tests on Tuesday morning after an inspection from the match referee Chris Broad and the practice facilities are not ready.
The tourists, who trail India after their victory in Mohali, trained at the old ground on Tuesday and will do so again on the eve of the game. Michael Hussey, Australia's most successful batsman of the tour with 285 runs at 57.00, likes to make sure his preparation is perfect before a match, but was trying not to let the unusual situation bother him.
"We've had to do it many times before, you fly into locations to play one-day internationals the day before and you have to cope," he said. "It's played in the head, so if you do let those things worry you then you will probably be affected, but we've got very mentally tough cricketers in the side. So I'm sure we'll be able to put those things aside and concentrate on what you have to do."
The visitors have so far relied on local information about the pitch, although senior members of the side are expected to inspect the ground in the lead-up to the match. Last time Australia were in Nagpur, when they won in 2004, the surface suited the fast bowlers, but there is little chance of a repeat.
"I've been told that it's a beautiful green, grassy square, but there is one strip that's not got a blade of grass on it," Hussey said. "That's just what we have been told from afar, so we don't know."
Australia have been preparing for a slow, low wicket that should suit the spinners, which increases the chances of offspinner Jason Krejza coming in for Cameron White. Although White is not a full-time legspinner with Victoria he has done an admirable job in capturing five wickets at 60.60 in the opening three matches.
However, with the series on the line, Australia may look to a more attacking option and pick Krejza. "Jason has been bowling well in the nets and he's been working very hard," Hussey said. "It would be a huge test for him to come in, but what better way to find out if a guy can sink or swim."
Krejza, from Tasmania, has taken 43 wickets at 50.09 in 24 first-class games, but was pushed below White after match figures of 0 for 199 in a lead-up fixture. Australia will also consider rearranging the quick bowlers after they were unable to take more than 14 wickets in the series. The support staff of Peter Siddle, who played in Mohali, and Doug Bollinger should come into contention for the vital contest.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.