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Team undecided on Adelaide combo

Team India’s tour selectors are on the horns of a dilemma over whether to play a fifth bowler or and extra batsman in the final Test. India’s vice-captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni acknowledged as much.

“We are yet to decide on that. If we are to sacrifice one batsman, we have to assess the way how our batsmen are playing. It would be a pleasure to play five bowlers, especially as each one of them can be a spearhead,” Dhoni said.

Dhoni was obviously referring to the inclusion of Harbhajan Singh in place of Wasim Jaffer. While it may appear to be a most logical choice, the Indian think-tank is uncomfortable with the idea of sacrificing a batsman as well as tinkering with the batting order once again.

Rahul Dravid being a reluctant opener, the team management, including consultant Gary Kirsten, is not in favour of asking him to do the job again, especially after he batted beautifully at No 3 in the first innings at Perth.

They also don’t want to risk shattering Irfan Pathan’s confidence by pitch-forking him into the opening slot. They would rather play Dinesh Karthik, who had a long stint in the nets, indicating that he is well and truly on stand-by.

If Karthik replaces Jaffer, then Harbhajan may have to cool his heels once again, unless, of course, skipper Anil Kumble decides to leave the hugely impressive Ishant Sharma out. Much would depend on what the Indians make of the pitch.

Kumble and other senior players, had a good look at it on Tuesday when they trained at the picturesque Adelaide Oval, but kept their cards close to their chest even as they work out their strategy for the match. Dhoni feels the fact that India had beaten Australia here the last time would count for little. And also the victory in Perth.

“It doesn’t matter how well you’ve done at a particular ground. What matters is how you play on all five days and how many consecutive sessions you win. Perth was a huge win. We will surely take confidence from it as also from our record here, especially as the pitch here is known to help spinners,” said Dhoni, adding that if India succeed in levelling the series, it will be a great achievement.

“It will be a moral victory for the team as we have played tough cricket throughout.”

The main difference between the two sides, Dhoni felt, could again be the quality of swing bowling that India possess.

“Our pacers are swinging the ball. The Australians are used to playing fast bowling. The only way you can trouble them is with swing. Our bowlers have encouraged them to drive and got us breakthroughs, which is very important,” Dhoni added.

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