Recent records at the WACA suggest that batting in the fourth innings is not all that tough
Besides last year's Ashes Test when England catapulted to a 267-run defeat on the fourth day, batting in the fourth innings has proven relatively easy here at the Western Australia Cricket Association Ground (WACA) since 2005.
Sachin Tendulkar practices at the WACA nets in Perth yesterday. Pic/AFP
Though that (fourth innings totals) doesn't guarantee victory, it must spell good news for batsmen that every team has scored a minimum of 300 in their last innings consistently in recent years. Former Australia captain Kim Hughes felt that India, with their bowling attack struggling to take wickets on Days Two and Three of last week's Sydney Test, must not miss the prospect of giving their fast bowlers first use of a surface, which is being called "a green monster".
Hughes also critcised Dhoni's decision to bat first at Sydney: "I think Australia's bowling is not better than India's. I think India made a huge blunder by opting to bat first at Sydney. The best days to bat are usually the second and third days. It'll be the same here in Perth where sides can chase even 350 to 400 in the last innings because the wicket doesn't crack so much. It will remain true," he said.
In 2007-08, India got their noses ahead thanks to comeback man Virender Sehwag's brisk 29, followed by a third-wicket stand of 139 between Rahul Dravid (93) and Sachin Tendulkar (71). Despite setting Australia a steep target of 413, India's victory margin was 72 runs -- discerning that batting last here isn't as difficult as other grounds in Australia.
India captain MS Dhoni has said that he would consider playing four quicks if the wicket continued to look as green yesterday morning. "We have to see how much grass is there (in the morning), and whether the spinner will get any kind of assistance. Accordingly, the bowling department will be structured depending on the wicket," he said yesterday.
India have not fielded four quicks since the SCG Test in 1991-92, when debutant Subroto Banerjee joined Kapil Dev, Manoj Prabhakar and Javagal Srinath. All-rounder Ravi Shastri was the only spinner. R Ashwin is likely to retain his place despite series figures of 4-298. Pragyan Ojha is the other spinner in the squad, but Ashwin's recent batting exploits are tough to ignore.
Will Rohit play?
Rohit Sharma too might have to wait a little longer for his Test debut. The Mumbai lad wasn't a part of the lengthy batting sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday -- when fielding coach Trevor Penney was throwing down sharp bouncers to Virat Kohli. Kohli batted for longer than anyone on those two days. Even yesterday, Rohit joined the session late, while the certainties in the order had already finished. That was enough indication that India were likely to retain most of the XI from the first two Tests.
Teams batting last at the WACA in recent years...
* 2005-06: South Africa 287-5 (Drawn)
* 2006-07: England 350 (Lost)
* 2007-08: Australia 340 (Lost)
* 2008-09: South Africa 414-4 (Won)
* 2009-10: West Indies 323 (Lost)
* 2010-11: England 123 (Lost)