Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It will be up to Dhoni and Kohli

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From 214-6 in their first innings, Australia rallied to 333. India, in contrast, collapsed to 282 from the comfort of 214-4. Clearly, India's lower half of batting didn't pull their weight. Laxman, Kohli and Dhoni being the guilty parties. They were up against a very good pace bowling trio that exploited the conditions well. However, test batsmen are expected to muster up enough runs to keep their team in the hunt. At least one of these three should have scored 30 plus runs.

Ashwin continues to impress everyone. Ponting being the latest. It appears that Harbhajan's test career is effectively over. India's bowling has been extremely good, except for allowing the late rally by Siddle and co in the first innings. Unfortunately, that could be the difference in this test match.

India have yet to get the last two Australian wickets. Dravid's drop might come back to haunt India. Even though, Sehwag feels India can chase anything under 300, history doesn't agree. But this is a great opportunity for India's best batting line-up to re-write history.

India' fought to 1-1 draw in 2003 against a bowling line-up without McGrath and Warne. This bowling line-up has no Brett Lee either. India's batting line-up is virtually the same with Gambhir and Kohli replacing Chopra and Ganguly. Even Stevens. Australia's bowling has heart and skill, but doesn't have the experience. India's batsmen need to bring all their experience to bear and bring this test match home. There may not be a stand-out innings, but if everyone were to play with intent, India might just take this test.

Having said that, chasing in the fourth innings is tough, even for an experienced line-up like India's. It's going to be a fourth day pitch and not a fifth day one, therefore, odds are in favor of India. This will be mental game. India's experienced batsmen with Sachin at the helm are extremely aware and have been in this situation several times before.

My prediction is that due to the pitch and weather conditions favoring swing and seam, it'll be down to Dhoni and Kohli to get the last 30 or so runs. The top and middle orders will bring India close without being able to take India home. The question will be whether Dhoni and Kohli can step up or will we see another Ashwin rescue act?

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