The 2008 Perth win should inspire troubled India (Preview)

January 12th, 2012 - 6:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Virender Sehwag Perth, Jan 12 (IANS) Despite losing the first two cricket Tests against Australia, India can afford to be upbeat on the eve of the third Test at WACA. All they need to do is to remember their victory here in similar circumstances four years ago and that the nucleus of this side was there then, too.

The Melbourne and Sydney Tests ended in embarrassing defeats, though there were stages in both the matches when India could have wrested the initiative. Nothing so far seems to be going right for the visitors, who got entangled in unsavoury incidents both on and off the field.

Like in 2008, the Indian team ran into controversies ahead of the Perth Test.

If it was the Monkeygate in 2008, this time it was an ill-timed go-karting session, Ishant Sharma’s indecent finger wagging at the crowd and worse, rumours of a rift between captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his deputy Virender Sehwag. The Indian team is in the news for all the wrong reasons.

India’s senior batsman Rahul Dravid also fears that the tour might turn out to be a nightmare, as was the tour of England last summer.

During the 2007-08 series, India came back strongly with a sensational win in Perth. But this time the visiting batsmen are struggling to find form and none of them got a hundred in the four innings, though Gautam Gambhir and Sachin Tendulkar looked good to get one in Sydney. Certainly, Perth does not appear to be the venue to stop the series of six straight losses.

Groundsman Cam Sutherland had boldly declared that the venue, known for its pace and bounce, is back at its deadly best. The top-order has to fight fire to make life easier for the middle and lower order batsmen.

Sutherland said the pitch will be faster and bouncier than when Australia thrashed England by 267 runs there last summer and just two fell to spin.

India’s batting has been disappointing but their performance in the second innings at Sydney was their best in six months overseas. For the first time, in six away Test matches, India crossed the 300-run mark, but the failure of the mainline batsmen to convert good starts into big innings remains a concern.

India need a good start and while Gautam Gambhir found his form in Sydney with a fine 83, a big knock from Virender Sehwag and a sizeable opening partnership are due.

Dravid admitted that Indian batsmen will have to bat for long hours on the pacy Perth wicket. Barring Virat Kohli, all batsmen have scored a fifty in the last four innings and it seems that the Delhi boy could make way for Rohit Sharma to debut.

Sachin Tendulkar’s agonising wait for the 100th international century is certainly not good for the team. But the batting maestro has been the leading run-getter of the team with 226 runs at 56.50.

While Australia are undecided whether to go in with four quicks, India will keep faith in Zaheer Khan, Ishant and Umesh Yadav. A fit-again Ryan Harris joins forces with Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenfaus and young Mitchell Starc may make his debut if Australia opt for an all-pace attack.

Zaheer has been the best of the lot while Ishant finds himself back at the venue where he made his mark in Test cricket, picking up then Australian captain Ricky Ponting in both the innings with excellent deliveries. Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has come good with the bat, but India need wickets from the Chennai boy. There is a possibility of him making way for left-arm Pragyan Ojha.

The Australian middle-order has finally found its touch with Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey all getting big knocks. Clarke, riding high on his landmark triple century, has now the Border Gavaskar Trophy in his sight and will surely seize the opportunity.

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