ICL: Indian Cricket League

Harbhajan set for Adelaide return


harbhiAustralia and India are both set to gamble on recalled players in their fourth and final Test at the Adelaide Oval, starting here on Thursday.

Trailing 2-1 but determined to square the series, India seem almost certain to recall spinner Harbhajan Singh after relegating him to 12th man duties for the third Test at the WACA Ground.

If India win in Adelaide, it will be the first time since the two sides met in 2003-04 that the Australians have failed to win a home series. Harbhajan was suspended for three Tests following the contentious second Test in Sydney, but is free to play pending an appeal that appears certain to be heard after the series.

His absence enabled India to play three fast bowlers in Perth and while the move worked as the Indians broke Australia’s 16-match winning streak with a 72-run victory, the seamers are less likely to have a major impact here.

India may drop struggling opener Wasim Jaffer and reshuffle its top order, enabling Mahendra Singh Dhoni to bat at six and all-rounder Irfan Pathan at seven, or they could axe a fast bowler. Either way, Harbhajan is likely to be wanted to partner captain Anil Kumble with the spin duties, despite Virender Sehwag’s pivotal cameo with the ball in Perth.

Harbhajan picked up seven wickets in the first two Tests, but significantly established an important ascendancy over Australian captain Ricky Ponting, who has been well off his best form in the series.

Ponting fell to Harbhajan, who has played 62 Tests for 255 wickets, three times in the first two Tests and has been dismissed by the off-spinner eight times in as many Tests. Australian opener Mike Hussey said here Monday the Australians were unsure which way the Indian selectors would go.

“All their bowlers bowled pretty well,” he said of India’s attack in Perth. “If they do decide to leave one of the bowlers out it would be a pretty tough call.” Australia will recall opener Matthew Hayden, who missed the Perth Test due to a hamstring strain.

He was missed at the top of the order, and his absence was also felt in the Australian slips cordon, with some crucial catches going to ground. Hayden has declared himself fit to play and will replace debutant Chris Rogers at the top of the order, but Hussey said the Australians could not expect the big left-hander to be the answer to all their problems. “If we’re pinning our hopes of winning the Test match on Matthew Hayden playing or not, we might be in a bit of trouble,” he said.

“It would be great to have him as batsman/first slip. “But hopefully we can have a very good team performance rather than relying or one or two key players.” Despite the disappointment of missing out on a world record 17th straight Test win in Perth, Hussey said the Australians would bounce back. “It’s not the end of the world,” he said.

“We’ve got to put it behind us and we’ve got to look forward positively to Adelaide. “The guys are going to be very determined.” Australia is also likely to recall a spinner, with veteran Brad Hogg set to return at the expense of tearaway fast bowler Shaun Tait.

Tait barely bowled in Perth and didn’t take a wicket. Australia’s decision to dispense with a specialist spinner for the first time in 16 years in favour of a pace quartet backfired as it was forced to bowl part-time spinners to counter slow over rates.

Likely teams: Australia - Ricky Ponting (c), Matthew Hayden, Phil Jaques, Mike Hussey, Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds, Adam Gilchrist, Brad Hogg, Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson, Stuart Clark, Shaun Tait (12th man).

India - Anil Kumble (c), Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, RP Singh, Ishant Sharma, Dinesh Karthik (12th man).

Source:Cricket News

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