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War for Adelaide: 'Fabulous Five' await their day in the sun

IANS
Jan 23, 2008 at 01:43pm IST

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Adelaide: On a roll, India will be keen to win the fourth and final Test against Australia, starting here Thursday, to end the series on a highly satisfying 2-2. Anil Kumble's team will also be looking to win successive Tests as India did here way back in 1977-78, the only time in Australia since the bilateral series began in 1947.

India won the third Test in Perth with a lot to spare last week on a pitch touted to suit the Australian quicks and frighten the Indian batsmen. But it turned out the other way around, with the Indian bowlers as well as the batsmen performing much better than the hosts to script a memorable win at the Western Australia Cricket Association Ground.

India go into the fourth match at a venue where they beat the Australians handsomely the last time they were here in 2003-04. That victory and the euphoric Perth success should keep the Indians in a buoyant mood for the Australia Day Test.

WILL HISTORY REPEAT ITSELF? Kumble's team will be looking to repeat history of successive wins in 1977-78.

There is a talk that India might make one change from the Perth eleven. Opener Wasim Jaffer is probably the biggest concern as he has so far managed only 49 in three Tests.

The team management might mull the idea of picking makeshift opener Dinesh Karthik for the first time in the series. The Tamil Nadu batsman was given an extended stint at the nets Tuesday, fuelling speculation that the right-hander could be asked to partner Virender Sehwag at the start.

There is also a talk of opening with Irfan Pathan and play five bowlers by including off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, instead of asking Rahul Dravid to do the unwanted chore he did in the first two Tests to accommodate Yuvraj Singh in the middle order.

This match will have a huge nostalgic connotation for the 'Fabulous Five' of Indian team — Kumble, Sachin Tendulkar, Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman.

They are all in their mid-30s and would most probably be playing their last Test in Australia. Therefore, they would like to put all their might behind the team one last time in the series and finish it off in grand style. Tendulkar and Laxman have particularly been in great touch in the series, having tallied 327 and 303 runs while the others would also be keen to leave the scene on a high.

Dravid, in particular, would be extra keen to score 109 runs that would make him only the third Indian, after Sunil Gavaskar and Tendulkar, to aggregate 10,000 runs at the highest level of the game.

The maestro from Bangalore, who was in top form on the 2003-04 tour of Australia, has 9,891 runs at a superb average of 55.25 in 118 Tests. The former captain would also draw confidence from his knocks of 233 and 72 from the previous Test he played here four years ago.

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Laxman too had come good here in 2003-04, scoring a fine 148 in the first innings as India won by four wickets. He and Dravid were involved in a colossal match-winning 303-run partnership for the fifth wicket.

Pathan is another player who will be looking forward to the match as the left-arm medium-pacer is three short of 100 wickets. Perth's Man-of-the-Match will be keen on reaching the milestone in the first innings of his 28th Test, having crossed the thousand-run mark in the last Test.

Tendulkar, on the other hand, will look to grab at least two more catches to reach a unique century and if Laxman takes five here he too would join the club. Dravid is already a member of this elite club with a whopping 166 catches.

Australia, whose reputation has taken a beating following the unsavoury happenings in the Sydney Test and the reverse in Perth, will be strengthened by the return of left-handed opener Matthew Hayden, who has announced himself that he is fit to play here. Third-Test debutant Chris Rogers, who had failed in both innings in Perth, will make way for Hayden.

Captain Ricky Ponting might also make a change in the bowling department to bring back left-arm spinner Brad Hogg. That means the exit of Shaun Tait from the failed experiment of playing four pacers in the last Test.

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