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Teams wary of 'uncertainty' over Nagpur wicket

Teams wary of 'uncertainty' over Nagpur wicket

Both sides ponder over how the pitch will behave in the final Test.

Nagpur: Australia might have to wait until the morning of the fourth and final Test at the newly constructed Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium here to decide on their bowling combination.

Ricky Ponting admitted that it was a "challenge for Australia to take 20 Indian wickets" after the conclusion of the third Test in Delhi, and Michael Hussey feels they can't take a call on their bowling department as they are yet to have a look at the wicket.

"We are not sure about the team because we haven't even seen the pitch yet," Hussey said after Australia's practice session, which was conducted at the old VCA Stadium in the heart of the city. "It would have been nice to practise there and get a feel of the ground and settle in the surroundings. Maybe, we will visit the stadium later in the day."

Both Australia and India are scheduled to have their training and practice sessions here – even on the eve of the Test match on Wednesday – which has left both sides wary of how the pitch would behave.

"I don't know anything about the new wicket there," Hussey said. "I have heard it's a wonderful stadium, but we are unsure of the pitch that would be given to us. But the good thing about the Australian cricket team is that we have been able to adapt to a variety of conditions all over the world, and we hope to adapt to this wicket quicker than the Indians."

Hussey said the Australians took a "lot of positives out of the draw in Delhi" which saw them close their first innings on 577, after the hosts had piled up 613 runs in the first essay. "It was an outstanding effort by the whole team to get close to 600 runs with the bat. Ricky was proud of the entire team with the way we fought back in Delhi. We have taken a lot of confidence from the result."

The left-hander hoped the Indian team would be distracted by the sudden retirement of Anil Kumble and the impending farewell of Sourav Ganguly, not to forget the 100th Test match of VVS Laxman. "I certainly hope they do. But I don't think that will the case because they are seasoned professionals."

The Australian bowlers were seen doing a mild routine while the batsmen had a hit out at the practice wickets. "Preparations are always individualised. Some do a bit more when others need to recover," Hussey said. "We fielded and bowled a lot more in Delhi, and back-to-back games are tough on the body. Thus the bowlers took a breather today."

Asked if Australia were disconcerted by the different spin bowling combinations employed by India in each of the three previous Tests, Hussey said there was initial trepidation. "In Mohali it was a bit difficult to handle Amit Mishra because we had never seen him bowl before. But we had a good look at him in Mohali and then in Delhi."

The Australian also defended his side's approach the Indians termed as "defensive". "I don't agree that we were defensive. We pushed hard for a victory in Bangalore. You only play according to the situation, and India had piled up huge scores in the next two Test matches which meant we had to be defensive."

There is still uncertainty over Indian opener Gautam Gambhir, who was slapped a one-Test ban after his tiff with Shane Watson. The batsman might still be able to play the Test if he files an appeal. But Hussey wasn't too concerned. "There is a process in place for Gambhir, which I'm not too clear about. But his absence will definitely benefit us."

first published:November 04, 2008, 14:10 IST