Mohali Test: Chance for India to script history versus clueless Australia
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In the driver's seat after two convincing wins, the stage is perfect for India to record their biggest-ever series win over a depleted Australia, who have been rocked by off-field controversies and dissensions, ahead of the third cricket Test starting here on Thursday.
If the humiliating losses in Chennai and Hyderabad were not enough, the once mighty Australians were dealt a body blow with the expulsion of four key players, including vice-captain Shane Watson, for breach of discipline, ahead of their must-win game at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium.
While India had been whitewashed on quite a few occasions by the Kangaroos, the hosts' best efforts so far had been the 2-0 wins in 1979-80 (out of six Tests under Kim Hughes), 2008-09 (four matches) and 2010-11 (two games – both under Ricky Ponting's captaincy).
This time around, if they are able to make it 3-0 in Mohali, it will be a welcome first for Indian cricket, against Australia, who had thrashed them 4-0 the last time they met at the Aussies' den. India have never won more than two Tests in a series against Australia.
In the ongoing rubber, the visitors had been easily beaten by eight wickets in the opening Test in Chennai, before being inflicted an innings and a 135-run defeat in the second game in Hyderabad.
And Australia's expulsion of four key players – Shane Watson, pacers James Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson and batsman Usman Khawja – have only brightened India's chances of scripting their best ever result against an opponent, who are going through a crisis situation.
Going into the match, India's primary cause of concern, though, could be the blow star batsman Cheteshwar Pujara suffered during a net session yesterday.
Architect of India's victory in the second Test in Hyderabad with a magnificent double ton, Pujara was hit on the left knee by a local pace bowler as he was batting in the nets. The batsman looked in considerable pain as he was forced to leave the nets.