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14 January, 2008
Game on in Perth
by Andrew Wu, Sportal

Sachin Tendulkar and Adam Gilchrist
Sachin Tendulkar and Adam Gilchrist
©Getty Images / Cricket Australia
The Border-Gavaskar Trophy will remain in Australia but there is still plenty to play for in the third 3 mobile Test which starts in Perth on Wednesday.

Should India manage to lift itself off the canvas with victories in Perth and Adelaide it will emulate the feat of Sourav Ganguly's 2003-04 team, which left Australia's shores having tied that series 1-1.

If Ricky Ponting's men win a 17th straight Test, they will set the new record for the most consecutive Test victories.

The 2-0 scoreline thus far in this series is not an accurate representation of the gap between the two teams as India has had the home side on the ropes in both Melbourne and Sydney only for the world champion to find an escape clause.

The Australian middle order folded on Boxing Day but was rescued on the second day by Brett Lee, Stuart Clark and Mitchell Johnson, who suffocated India's batsmen with their precise line and length.

Andrew Symonds and Brad Hogg were the saviours with the bat in Sydney when Australia collapsed to 6-134 on day one, before centurions Matthew Hayden and Michael Hussey regained the ascendancy for the home side after India had scored a first-innings lead.

Hayden's string of 86 consecutive Tests is under threat from a hamstring injury. Should Hayden, who has two tons from as many matches this series, miss out then Western Australian opener Chris Rogers will make his Test debut on his home ground.

According to pre-match reports, the WACA Ground wicket has returned to its old self and will again be lightning fast.

That is not good news for India, whose batsmen are used to playing balls below their waist rather than up around their ribs and shoulders.

Consequently, tearaway speedster Shaun Tait could come into the side for just his second Test. Should that occur, the only respite India will have from the express pace of Lee, Johnson and Tait will be the unerring line and length of Stuart Clark.

However, India's batsmen have improved significantly since Melbourne where they had the scoreboard ticking over at snail's pace.

Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman have tons next to their name. Ganguly has been in sparkling form, and Rahul Dravid, after an excruciating time in Melbourne, put in an improved showing in Sydney.

But Yuvraj Singh and Wasim Jaffer have struggled thus far and are under extreme pressure to retain their places from Virender Sehwag, who reminded selectors what he was capable of with a ton in India's tour match in Canberra, albeit against an attack far from international class.

India's bowlers, led by captain Anil Kumble, have performed admirably this series but lacked a killer punch.

RP Singh, in the absence of No.1 paceman Zaheer Khan, was dangerous with the new ball in Sydney, while Kumble and Harbhajan Singh again caused headaches for Australia.

With Perth promising to be paceman-friendly, off-spinner Harbhajan, even if his appeal is upheld, may miss out though India's dearth of pace bowling options will be in his favour.

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Aussies add Rogers

Australian selectors have called up opener Chris Rogers as a 'shadow player' for the third 3 mobile Test against India starting in Perth on Wednesday.

Western Australia's Rogers will train with the squad in the lead-up to his local 3 mobile Test and is in line to replace Matthew Hayden at the top of the order if the Queenslander cannot overcome a hamstring injury.

Selectors confirmed on Sunday that Rogers had been added to the squad of 12. He will first train with the Australian side on Monday.

Australia team Physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said Hayden would be given every chance to prove himself able to play in the clash with India.

"Matthew has taken part in training today," Kountouris said.

"We will continue with the program on his hamstring and make a decision about Matthew's fitness and availability much closer to game time."
 
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