Salvage pride at Oval, skipper

India have not lost a cricket Test at the Adelaide Oval since Sachin Tendulkar's Indians were defeated by Steve Waugh's all-conquering Australians in the opening Test of the 1999-2000 series. The strip of this South Australian ground appears to be a belter and the bounce is not as dangerous at it was in Perth.

While sweating over Australia's score of 335 for 3 on Day One yesterday, India's star batsmen should have also been licking their lips in anticipation for their turn to bat. One does not need to be a Christopher Columbus to discover that the Indian batsmen have let the team down badly through their low scores. Adelaide gives them a chance of redemption. In fact, one of the more disappointing aspects of this Test series is that there has been no sign of a thriller.

The likes of Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman will be viewed as lesser batsmen if they end this Test series with no ton against their name. This is their best and last chance Down Under. Laxman has had some success at this ground and contributed to India's win in 2003-04 just like Dravid, who scored an imperious double century. And although they are nine years older, their class has not taken a nosedive. Tendulkar has looked good for a big score in most of his stints at the crease in this series, so there's no reason why he cannot fancy his chances of a big score.

The pressure on the big three often dilutes the importance of the opening pair of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir getting their act together. Make no mistake, failures at the top of the order have contributed in no small measure in India surrendering the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

Just like post mortems, retirements can be talked about later. But first, there's a salvage operation needed in Adelaide. Captain Sehwag must report for duty on time.

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