Aussies hoping to turn the tide

Calcutta/Mohali: If you thought you would miss a zing or two in Mohali after Australia's capitulation in the first two Tests of the series, the visitors ensured a dramatic build-up wasn't lacking three days prior to the start.

The debacle in Chennai and Hyderabad was followed by the disciplining of vice-captain Shane Watson and three other players. They were 'dropped' for this match for not providing requested feedback on their contribution to the series and other related off-the-field issues, with the team management making their intentions clear in an unprecedented move.

Many like Watson believe that the scale of the punishment dished out to the four ' the others being James Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson and Usman Khawaja ' was excessive.

Captain Michael Clarke, though, wants to put an end to the controversy, stating that he doesn't want to "look backwards" and would instead focus on the third Test starting Thursday.

"That (the issue) happened in the past. We are looking ahead and don't want to look back," Clarke said, adding "the focus is on the third Test."

If Australia were hoping Mohali would be the closest they would get to decent bounce and carry in India, they were certainly disappointed by the conditions.

And going by the mood in their camp, they weren't banking on it too much, though.

"There's not much grass to cut off and it was quite dry yesterday so it's probably even drier today," Clarke said on Wednesday. "I think the conditions are going to be very similar to what we've seen in the first two Test matches."

Australia have lost both the Tests they have played in Mohali.

Clarke has finally decided to move up in the order in an attempt to prevent the slide that has been a trademark in the Australians' batting so far. One is not sure whether he will bat at No.3 or 4, but he has made the decision for the good of the team.

You can see, though, why Clarke wanted to cling on to No. 5: he averages 64 and 51 at Nos. 5 and 6, and only 22 and 25 at 4 and 3.

Australia have the task of picking a Test XI out of only a handful of players. It looks easier on paper because there aren't many alternatives available but Clarke has a huge task in hand.

Matthew Wade is as good as ruled out as a wicketkeeper, but there is a chance he could play ahead of Phillip Hughes as a batsman.

They could play both the specialist spinners, and leave Glenn Maxwell out.

For a change, Mahendra Singh Dhoni's moves have all clicked in this series. Ravindra Jadeja has turned into a Test bowler at home and Shikhar Dhawan, who will take Virender Sehwag's place in the opening combination, looked confident during nets.

There had been an injury scare to Cheteshwar Pujara, who batted with what seemed like a troublesome knee in Hyderabad, and walked off gingerly during a training session two days before the match. Dhawan, however, informed that Pujara was fit and would play.

The double centurion in Hyderabad batted at nets for a while and then went for a fielding practice session with Trevor Penny.

Harbhajan Singh, too, could continue being chosen ahead of Pragyan Ojha. Both Harbhajan and Ojha bowled long spells during practice on Wednesday. After a round of discussion with Tendulkar, the off-spinner concentrated on bowling at a single stump for sometime.

There is possibility of cloudy sky and light rain on the opening day.


India (likely): Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh/Pragyan Ojha, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma.

Australia (likely): David Warner, Ed Cowan, Phillip Hughes/Matthew Wade, Michael Clarke, Steven Smith, Brad Haddin, Moises Henriques, Glenn Maxwell/Xavier Doherty, Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon.

Umpires: Aleem Dar and Richard Kettleborough. TV: Sudhir Asnani

Match Referee: Ranjan Madugalle

Match starts: 9.30 am.


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