Aussies determined, but history backs India at Kotla

October 25th, 2008 - 8:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Harbhajan SinghNew Delhi, Oct 25 (IANS) Outplayed in Mohali, the Australians will be seething for revenge at the Fersozshah Kotla here in the third Test, starting Wednesday. Some of their players are working hard without a break after the second Test, Brett Lee for one trying for that x-factor. They feel they have it in them to come back into the series.The World Champions though will not only have to face a toughened India side, but also the curse of the stadium which has a history of undermining the visiting sides.

India have won seven Tests here on the trot since 1993, and against Australia, the hosts have lost just one, way back in 1959. Overall, of the 29 Tests played here, India have won 10, lost six and 13 were drawn.

The last time the two sides played here in 1996, India easily beat Australia, led by Mark Taylor, by seven wickets.

Traditionally, the spinners enjoyed bowling here and the visiting teams crumbled on the dusty Kotla track which got slower and lower as the game progressed.

Anil Kumble’s historic ten-wicket haul in an innings against Pakistan came on one of those pitches in 1999. The pitch though has been relaid after the construction of the stadium and the spinners do not seem to get the same purchase now. In fact, the seamers are having a ball, Ishant Sharma being a product of the new Kotla pitches. The conditions should, however, encourage the spinners as they should get a fair bit of bounce in the later stages of the game.

Kumble, who is going through a leant trot, will be itching to get his form back in the familiar surroundings. The leg-spinner has an outstanding record here, having picked
up 55 wickets at a miserly average of 15.41.

Kotla curator Radhey Shyam Sharma says that the pitch will be sporting, but it will not give any undue advantage to spinners, thus ruling out any doctoring of the track.

“All the talk about the pitch turning from day one is not true. It will be a sporting track and there will be something for everybody. Yes, spinners will get turn, but only on the last two days and that’s how a good Test pitch should play.”

Sharma, who has been looking after the pitch since the 1996 World Cup, says that it is not fair to speculate that Kumble will get a tailor-made pitch.

“Look at his record, does he need undue assistance from the pitch to get wickets? He is such a great bowler.”

Sharma though says that this being the first match of the season, it is difficult to predict its behaviour.

“We have put in a lot of effort to make it a decent surface. But this is the first match of the season and we need to wait and see how it plays.”

Indian think-tank, though, will be in a dilemma whether to go into the Test with three spinners after Amit Mishra’s phenomenal success at Mohali or play with two seamers and Kumble and Harbhajan Singh. The visitors do not have much of a choice as they will have to perforce rely on their fast bowlers.

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