India team manager Shivlal Yadav was seen talking to Oval curator Damian Hough for more than half-an-hour after the team's practice session here yesterday. Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yadav inspected the wicket and inquired whether the curator would cut the grass.
Team India is hoping that the grass at the Adelaide wicket will be pruned further which will benefit their batters, but that looks unlikely.
Can't help it...
Hough told the Indian senior players that the grass on the wicket is retained to save it from the scorching sun, since the temperature here is high. This indicates that the grass length would almost remain the same, something which cannot be considered good news for the Indian camp.
If grass on the 22-yard strip remains the same, India will go in with three medium-pacers and one spinner, Zaheer Khan, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin. But if there is any indication of the ball turning sharply, off-colour pacer Ishant Sharma could make way for Pragyan Ojha. As of now, the plan is to go in with three pacemen and a solitary spinner.
It is learnt that the Indian team management also asked the curator to cut the additional grass on the outfield to avoid a low-scoring encounter. A heavy outfield means that batsmen will be unable to pierce the field with usual ease.
Adelaide has proved to be a good venue for the Indians in recent times. Their last Test defeat here was in 1999-2000 when Steve Waugh's all-conquering team beat Sachin Tendulkar's tourists in the opening Test of that series. India famously won the 2003-04 Test to go one-up in the series (something that was never achieved by them before in Australia) thanks to the batting efforts of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. Mumbai paceman Ajit Agarkar claimed six wickets as Australia were dismissed for 196 in their second innings. India won by four wickets.
The Test in 2007-08 was drawn thanks to centuries by Sachin Tendulkar (first innings) and Virender Sehwag (second innings). Like tomorrow's Test, that game too kicked off on January 24. Going by the form displayed by the Indians, a victory might be too much to ask. A draw will save the erstwhile No 1 team some level of shame though.