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Jan 23, 2008 at 05:08pm IST

Rivalry adds spice to India-Australia finale

Adelaide: The bitter rivalry between Australia and India has added extra spice to the final Test starting at Adelaide Oval on Thursday.

The Australians have already retained the Border-Gavaskar trophy by winning the first two Tests in Melbourne and Sydney but India's surprise win in last week's third match in Perth has given both teams plenty to play for in the series finale.

Australia are seeking to restore their battered pride amid complaints about their on-field behaviour and growing speculation their golden era is drawing to a close after India ruined their chance of setting a world record of 17 successive wins.

CHARGED UP: Indian players warmup during a training session at the Adelaide Oval.

India have the chance to draw the series and perhaps claim a moral victory after they were on the wrong end of a number of incorrect umpiring decisions in a narrow loss in Sydney.

The rivalry between Australia and India has been building steadily over the past decade but reached new highs in this series after the bitter fallout between the teams in Sydney.

India suspended the tour for two days and threatened to call off the remaining matches after spinner Harbhajan Singh was suspended for racial abuse.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) eventually agreed to continue after the International Cricket Council (ICC) sacked umpire Steve Bucknor and the warring captains called a truce.

Australian skipper Ricky Ponting said both teams were enjoying the rivalry.

"You want to be tested all the time at the highest level and India manage to push Australia and test Australia a lot over the years," Ponting told a news conference on Wednesday.

"They're great opponents of ours and with this series being the way it is right at the moment, and the likelihood of some of the Indian players not touring Australia again, everything is lining up for this game to be another beauty as well."

Heads held high

Indian captain Anil Kumble, one of several senior players making their last trip to Australia, said he was disappointed his side could no longer win the series but said a draw would leave a legacy for future Indian teams.

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"As a senior group we came in with the purpose of winning a series in Australia, we haven't been able to achieve that, but at least we can go back with our heads held high," Kumble said.

"Future Indian teams that come here will look at the performances from the past and I'm sure they'll do what we could not achieve here, so that's something I'm really proud of."

Both teams are considering making chances to their lineups from Perth because the Adelaide pitch is traditionally much slower and more conducive to spin.

Ponting is stuck between retaining the same all-pace attack that lost in Perth or ditching express fast bowler Shaun Tait for spinner Brad Hogg.

Kumble's dilemma is whether to play five bowlers or four.

India played three seamers and a spinner in Perth with great success but are toying with the idea of recalling Harbhajan, who is clear to play while his appeal is pending, possibly at the expense of a batsman.

India have been dealing with rumours of a rift in the camp over the selection of the One-Day squad that will remain in Australia after the Test series.

Several senior players were controversially overlooked for the squad but Kumble said he was confident it would not affect their performance in Adelaide.

"I'm sure some people will be disappointed not to make it but they've played enough cricket to understand that this match is crucial not just for us but for Indian cricket," he said.

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