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The mountaintop locale of Dharamsala seems as fitting a place as any for the fate of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy to be decided. Dharamsala plays host to a match that will be anything but valedictory. Australia have fought India all the way through the series. They started with a stunning upset in Pune. Australia now find themselves needing only a draw to go home with the Border-Gavaskar trophy. India, by contrast, have had to dig particularly deep to avoid defeat. First getting decidedly pugilistic in Bengaluru. India then relied heavily on the serene Cheteshwar Pujara to forge ahead of the contest in Ranchi.
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Virat Kohli’s sore shoulder is yet another obstacle for him in a series where the Australians have kept him exceptionally quiet in terms of runs if not words. Australia’s vice-captain David Warner reaches Dharamsala having not yet made an impression on India’s bowlers.
Neither R Ashwin nor Nathan Lyon had as much impact as expected in Ranchi. They missed the foot marks provided by the injured Mitchell Starc. Australia’s concern about Pat Cummins’ ability to cope with his workload in the third Test was underlined by precautionary scans on his back that showed no damage done.
By playing the longest innings ever by an Indian Test batsman, Cheteshwar Pujara made himself Australia’s No. 1 wicket-taking priority in the final Test. James Sutherland Chief Executive of Cricket Australia made made a joking observation in a radio interview this week. He said he’s not sure Kohli “knows how to spell” the word sorry. This was totally unexpected and have stirred things once again.
Virat Kohli is a doubtful starter. He has confirmed that he will play only if he is 100% fit. Shreyas Iyer has been called up as back up. Murali Vijay also in in doubt to start. Expect Australia to go unchanged.
India: 1 M Vijay/Abhinav Mukund, 2 KL Rahul, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Virat Kohli (capt)/Shreyas Iyer, 5 Ajinkya Rahane, 6 Karun Nair, 7 R Ashwin, 8 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 9 Ravindra Jadeja, 10 Bhuvneshwar Kumar/Ishant Sharma, 11 Umesh Yadav
Australia (probable) 1 David Warner, 2 Matt Renshaw, 3 Steven Smith (capt), 4 Shaun Marsh, 5 Peter Handscomb, 6 Glenn Maxwell, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 Steve O’Keefe, 9 Pat Cummins, 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Josh Hazlewood.
Pitch and Conditions
Dharamsala’s location has tended to offer some help to pace bowlers in the past. However during last year’s World Twenty20 the pitch was slow and assisting spin. The surface has a thin film of green grass. This is expected to be shaved off by match morning and some help for spin can be expected.
Kohli expected it to offer “good bounce for the spinners” and “good pace off the wicket for the quicks”. Dharamsala should have pleasant weather through the Test. The maximum temperatures is in the low-to-mid-20s. There is forecasts of rain towards the second half of the match.
Stats and Trivia
- Australia are seeking their first series win in India since 2004
- Dharamsala will become the 27th Test venue in India
- Should he play, Kohli will need 89 runs to avoid completing his least productive Test series as a batsman. Previously 134 runs at 13.40 in England in 2014 was his worst.
We at UWeWorld feel that this is going to be a very exciting match. The decider at Dharamshala will be fantastic for players to play and fans to watch. There has been a lot of controversy outside the field. On field things may explode if Kohli Plays. If he does play expect his bat to do the talking this time. Australia have had a great series so far. They will want to end this series with a win. India on the other hand will want to end a long home season with a win. It will be be interesting to see where the Border-Gavaskar trophy is heading.