India miss Gambhir, Australia may play Krejza in Nagpur Test (Preview)

November 5th, 2008 - 8:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Nagpur, Nov 5 (IANS) Nagpur now has a state-of-the-art cricket stadium and in the inaugural Test India play Australia Thursday. The teams were not allowed to practice at the venue and the first ball will be bowled when the fourth and last match of the series gets under way. Australia captain Ricky Ponting made no secret of his displeasure at playing a Test match on a pitch where no international cricket was played. That surely may not be the ideal way of going into a must-win game.

Ponting was clearly worried about his bowlers’ ability to pick up 20 wickets to win the match, The Australian captain may even play two spinners as the medium-pacers were not all that hot in the Indian conditions. He said off-spinner Jason Krejza may get a look in here. “Jason came very very close to playing in the Delhi Test. He may well get a chance to play here.”

The Australians were also a little apprehensive about the fall-out from Gautam Gambhir’s suspension for one Test for elbowing of Shane Watson in the third Test in Delhi last week. The visitors expressed apprehensions about India forcing a showdown with the ICC by brazenly playing Gambhir.

Leading India full-time for the first time, following Anil Kumble’s retirement, Mahendra Singh Singh Dhoni, however, made it clear that Gambhir will not be playing and Tamil Nadu’s Murali Vijay will go out to open with Virender Sehwag in his debut Test.

Apart from Gambhir, Dhoni has to cope with the pressures of wicketkeeping and celebration of Sourav Ganguly’s last international match and the hundredth Test of Vangipurappu Venkata Sai Laxman, but the Indian captain made light of these so-called distractions.

Though Australia’s in-form batsman Mike Hussey dismissed suggestion that his side was defensive throughout the series, there is no denying the fact that their usual brisk run-rate was missing. Both Zaher Khan, at Mohali, and Laxman in the Delhi Test accused the Australians of being uncharacteristically ultra defensive.

It was in this orange city, the Australians had conquered the Final Frontier four years ago. Injured Ponting did not play in the Test and his deputy Adam Gilchrist led the side to 342 runs victory.

The Australians are hoping that their batsmen, who got into form in the Delhi Test, will be able to give their bowlers enough runs to buy wickets. Their top-four batsmen had fifty-plus scores and Michael Clarke hit a century in a total of 577 in reply to India’s 613 for seven. The Australian bowlers did give India a fright on the last afternoon, but could not finish the job.

The Indian camp is delighted to find off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, one short of 300 test wickets, regaining fitness after missing the Delhi Test with a troublesome toe. Leg-spinner Amit Mishra will fill in for Kumble who will be here to greet Laxman and Ganguly.

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