Indians look for redemption

Down 0-3, visitors will be keen to avoid second whitewash in a row abroad

Don’t commit the mistake of considering the Adelaide Test, beginning on Tuesday, as a mere dead rubber, for this match has a more interesting sub-plot than many others.

Sachin Tendulkar obliges eager fans ahead of his practice in Adelaide on Monday. AFP

This could be the last time you would see India’s three batting titans – Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman – batting together. It was a scenario no one has envisaged some four weeks ago when the series started in Melbourne, billed as India’s best chance to win a series Down Under and the perfect stage for the stalwarts to walk into a golden sunset.

But after, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth that dream is now in shambles, India are staring at a whitewash and questions are raised about the continued presence of those giants who once led India to unprecedented peaks in the last decade.

India’s next Test series is more than seven months down the line against New Zealand, and it’s hard to see the trinity in action in that series. So, keep your eyes open and watch them because these men are still capable of recreating the magic of the past, though that could have little bearing on their future.

But that shouldn’t prevent us from cheering them for one final time. We can hope for that special hundred by Sachin Tendulkar, a classic Test innings by Dravid, and moments of sheer wizardry by Laxman, and of course an Indian win that can provide the team some momentum going into the two T20s against Australia and the tri-series, also involving Sri Lanka.

However, for all this to materialise two other batsmen should join the party – Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. The crack duo has been in silent mode for a while now, and their indifferent form has deprived India of the early psychological advantage over opposition. Gambhir has averaged 20.50 in six Tests, while Sehwag is even poorer at 15.90 from five Tests.

Their lean patch has allowed the rival bowlers the liberty of having a look into the Indian middle-order at the nascent stages of the match, and unfortunately they haven’t been able to deliver under pressure. A firing Sehwag can have devastating effect on the opposition, a flurry of boundaries unsettling the bowlers and rival captain’s best framed plans in a jiffy.

Gambhir is capable of shifting the gears at will according to the situation. He can match Sehwag stroke for stroke and in aggression, and the little left-hander is also capable of knuckling down to grind the opposition down like he did in Napier a couple of years ago.

But the Delhiite has not been able to either blast out the opponents or wear them down, looking a pale shadow of the run-hungry opener that he was in the recent past. Now, Viru-Gauti pair perforce has to find their range or India will suffer another whitewash in a span of nine months.

The Adeliade Oval offers a perfect stage for them and the rest of the Indian batsmen to register some runs against their names. The pitch and conditions here are much similar to what they get in India, and if they defy the recent trend of giving early wickets the visitors can hope to pile up some runs.

In the event of a long overdue Indian run-fest, their bowlers can put Aussies under some pressure, and their  batsmen are susceptible when pushed to the wall, as shown recently by South Africa and New Zealand. Indian bowlers led by Zaheer Khan and the impressive Umesh Yadav have shown a lot of heart in this series, and only the lack of runs on the board have spoiled their attempts. So the onus is directly on the batsmen, and hopefully the big names will lead the way. For one final time!

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