India seek to avoid whitewash

Adelaide: The series is lost and their reputation is in tatters but India will make a desperate bid to avoid a whitewash when they take on Australia in the fourth and final Test here tomorrow, hoping to redeem some of the lost pride.

India have already conceded the Border-Gavaskar Trophy after a humiliating innings and 37 runs loss at WACA, Perth last week and the reputation of their top players is almost beyond repair. Yet the last-ditch stand could help revive their careers or at least allow them to go out on their own terms.

Openers Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag are in urgent need of revival as they have slipped into technical inertia and have neither shown the will nor scores to justify facing up to the new ball.

Between the two, Gambhir has tried harder and looked to leave as many deliveries as possible on his off-stump yet old habits still see him poking his bat at away going deliveries. The result – almost all his dismissals have been in the cordon behind the off-stump.

Virender Sehwag has invariably fallen to balls seaming away on his off-stump from perfect lengths. He too has been swallowed behind the stumps.

The Australians have worked out their plans to perfection as there are invariably two gullies for Sehwag and a forward and backward short leg for a hopping Gambhir on short deliveries.

The figures don`t lie – Gambhir hasn`t hit a century for over two years and Sehwag has gone without hundred for a year now. Their best stand in the series is only 24 and their individual averages are 24.00 and 19.66 respectively with a half century each.

India`s worst nightmare has been the off-form of Rahul Dravid. He never liked the sobriquet "The Wall" and now even his supporters would be loathe to term him one. It has embarrassed him to be bowled in five of the six innings and there are signs that time is probably catching up with the 39-year-old, 163-Test veteran`s reflexes.

Sachin Tendulkar is another story. He wasn`t exactly a failure in the first two Tests. But the burning deck seems to have bruised him as well and he was indistinguishable from the rest in WACA, Perth.

VVS Laxman, along with Mahendra Singh Dhoni perhaps, is in a career-saving mode. Laxman has had no answer to deliveries leaving him on the off-stump. He still hangs back at the crease and tries to play as late as possible but such has been the length of the Australian quicks that he has been forced to make that little movement forward which is never fully stretched and deficient to completely cover the swing. His 102 runs at 17.00 from six innings is a sad reflection of his poor form.

Virat Kohli is the one who has surprised his detractors with his compact knocks in Perth. While he struggled on comparatively benign tracks of Melbourne and Sydney, and his place was in danger in Perth, the Delhi youngster showed ample belief in self by playing sure-footed knocks. He would definitely look forward to an improved performance in Adelaide.

Wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha has the freshness of youth but whether he has the resilience and skills would only be known after five days. The tail is no great shake though Ravichandran Ashwin`s return could plug the run void.

Australia, on the other hand, would be hoping the batting friendly conditions would also allow a few of its batters to come to form. One-drop Shaun Marsh and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin certainly are two who have struggled in this series. It`s as good an opportunity as ever for them to justify the selectors` faith in them. If records could buoy up India, there are aplenty at this venue. India haven`t lost a Test in Adelaide in the last dozen years.

The won a Test here in 2003-04 in stirring manner. Faced with a total of 556, they somehow still managed to win by four wickets.

Sachin Tendulkar only has an average of 36.00 at this venue but the last time around, he smacked a brilliant 153. Sehwag scored 151 in the same Test which remains his only century in the second innings of a Test match. Dravid has scored his only hundred in Australia and it`s at this venue – a sparkling 233 which laid the base of Indian win in 2003-04. Dravid averages 93.75 in Adelaide. VVS Laxman too hit a hundred in 2003-04 — a brilliant knock of 148 runs.

However, if draw is India`s top priority, than that`s difficult to achieve at this venue. Despite the batter-friendly reputation, in the last 13 Tests spread over 14 years, there has been only two drawn games.