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30-Oct-2009 01:01:00 GMT
India v Australia, 3rd ODI, New Delhi

Kotla Pitch Could Dampen Spirits

New Delhi: If it rained fours and sixes in the first two One-dayers between India and Australia in Vadodara and Nagpur, expect the Ferozeshah Kotla to play spoilsport. The hard, newly-laid Kotla track, which drew much flak during the T20 Champions League, is likely to get a little better but not enough to produce a high-scoring match.

The wicket, which shone like a mirror under lights on Thursday evening, will offer low bounce, quite contrary to the one in Nagpur which had a lot of bounce and carry. In fact, the shot on which Sachin Tendulkar got out during the second ODI, could fetch him a boundary at the Kotla. Tendulkar was caught in the slips off Peter Siddle while attempting a cover drive playing through the line.

So, the pitch will will not be ideal for square-cuts, flick shots, short-arm pulls. "But for certain, the pitch will be better than the Champions League," Daljit Singh, the chairman of the ground and pitches committee of the BCCI told TOI on Thursday.

Harbhajan Singh's cross-batted shots, which mesmerised the Vadodara crowd in the first ODI and helped India come close to the winning target, may not be possible here at all. This is a kind of pitch which will test the batsman's skills.

The additional factor in the match will be dew. Winning the toss and opting to bat on Indian wickets is not a new phenomenon. But dew can be both advantageous and disadvantageous for the team batting second. With dew on the pitch, the ball will skid and and suit the stroke-makers. On the other hand, seam movement can make life difficult for the batsmen.

In the Champions League, medium-pacers got the maximum purchase from the wicket. It remains to be seen how the spinners exploit the conditions on the match day.

Interestingly, the teams are not reading too much into the pitch. The momentum is with the Indians and they are keen to embrace a realistic approach - playing shots after judging the pace and bounce of the wicket. The hosts are buoyed by the fact that both their proven match-winners - Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh - are looking to score some big runs and batsmen like Gautam Gambhir, skipper MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina are already in great touch. As far as Tendulkar is concerned, the visitors would always be wary of him.

As for Australia, they have shown in the past how well they can adapt to Indian conditions. However, with their injury list growing, it would be tough for the ‘walking wounded' to get a strong bowling attack in place on Super Saturday.

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