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Smith, Johnson drive Australia to lead of 97

Written By kom nampultig on Jumat, 19 Desember 2014 | 21.24

Skipper Steve Smith scored 133 and Mitchell Johnson a game-changing 88 as Australia took a first innings lead of 97 after being dismissed for 505 after tea on the third day of the second Test against India in Brisbane on Friday.

Australia had looked to be facing a sizeable deficit when they lost two early wickets to slip to 247/6 but Smith and Johnson combined for a Gabba record seventh-wicket partnership of 148 runs from 160 balls.

Both fell to paceman Ishant Sharma (3-117) in the same over an hour after lunch but Mitchell Starc continued the resistance with his fourth Test half century and partnerships of 56 with Nathan Lyon (23) and 51 with Josh Hazlewood (32 not out).

Starc was the last batsman to fall, bowled by Ravi Ashwin for 52 four balls after the delayed tea break.

Smith, deputising for the injured Michael Clarke for the remainder of the series, became the first Australian to score a century in his maiden Test as captain since Graham Yallop in 1978.

It was his second century of the series after his unbeaten 162 in the first Test victory in Adelaide last weekend and a fourth in eight Tests this year.

It was Johnson's pugnacious 93-ball knock, though, that turned the day in Australia's favour after he arrived at the crease an hour into play with his team tottering and well short of India's tally of 408.

Fired up by some sledging from the tourists, the paceman stopped the rot in no uncertain fashion by clubbing the ball around the ground with 13 fours and one six.

The lefthander looked to be heading for his second Test century when he chased an Ishant delivery only to get a top edge which Mahendra Singh Dhoni snaffled up behind the stumps.

Smith, who had brought up his sixth Test century with his 10th four through the covers just before lunch, followed five balls later when he chopped on to be dismissed for the first time in the series.

For the first hour, however, it had looked like being India's morning after an Ishant inswinger bowled Mitchell Marsh for seven and Brad Haddin fended a short Varun Aaron delivery straight to Cheteshwar Pujara at short leg for six.

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'Sleepwalking' Rohit fluffs his lines again

BRISBANE: Rohit Sharma can be enthralling and infuriating in parts. His immense talent and lazy temperament have been fighting each other for ascendancy since his 2007 ODI debut against Ireland. It's been no different in Australia this time around. Rohit came into this series seeking to rejuvenate his Test career following a mind-boggling second double hundred in One-dayers.

But both in Adelaide and here in Brisbane, a completely different set of circumstances have tested his patience. It's not so much the Australian bowling that has troubled him but his own approach. In each of his three innings on this tour, he has got out in infuriating fashion, twice after getting good starts. Each of those dismissals has had an instant effect on India's fortunes.

Maybe he just hasn't woken up to the fact that he bats at the crucial No. 6 position, a sort of last stop for established batsmen before the tail sets in. In fact, Australian legend Ian Chappell feels Rohit is just "sleepwalking" most of the time.

Those are harsh words but his talent hasn't translated to long innings in Test cricket yet. On Thursday, Chappell told Fairfax Radio, "He (Rohit Sharma) is just not intent, it seems. Too often he looks like he is batting in the nets. Too often he is playing a shot and not making any runs off it. To me it looks like he is sleepwalking most of the time."

On this tour, the timing of his dismissals have hurt India. It has got to be a pattern: remain unbeaten on stumps and lose your wicket early the next morning. In Adelaide in the first innings, he was batting overnight on 33 on Day 3 and only added 10 more runs the next morning before being caught in two minds and lobbing one back to Lyon. India folded soon after. In the second innings he perished for six going for runs on a turning pitch, and India went on to lose the Test.

Here at the Gabba, he was 26 not out overnight and was expected to set a platform for a huge first innings total with Ajinkya Rahane and Dhoni. But Rahane's dismissal seemed to upset him a bit and Rohit could only add six more to his tally. India lost six wickets for 97 runs in the first session.

Rohit's Test career seems to be sleepwalking too. He got a second wind after he started opening in One-dayers but struggles for impact away from home. That holds true for Tests too, a format in which he began with two centuries in his first two innings at home. The effectiveness seems to have ebbed since.

After the 111 against the West Indies in Mumbai in Nov 2013, his scores are 14 and 6 in Johannesburg, 0 and 25 in Durban, 72 and 19 in Auckland, 0 and 31 not out in Wellington, 28 and 6 in Southampton, 43 and 6 in Adelaide and 32 in Brisbane. Those numbers have their own story to tell. But Rohit is only seven Tests old, and time is on his side. Hopefully, he will get his act right before the labels stick.

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Smith, Johnson and tail drive Oz ahead

Skipper Steve Smith scored 133 and Mitchell Johnson a game-changing 88 as Australia took a first innings lead of 95 after reaching tea on 503 for nine on the third day of the second Test against India in Brisbane on Friday.

Australia had looked to be facing a sizeable deficit when they lost two early wickets to slip to 247/6 but Smith and Johnson combined for a Gabba record seventh-wicket partnership of 148 runs from 160 balls.

Both fell victim to paceman Ishant Sharma (3-117) in the same over an hour after lunch but Mitchell Starc continued the resistance with his fourth Test half century and partnerships of 56 with Nathan Lyon (23) and an unbroken stand of 49 with Josh Hazlewood.

Starc was unbeaten on 51 and debutant Hazlewood 31 not out at the break.

Smith, deputising for the injured Michael Clarke for the remainder of the series, became the first Australian to score a century in his maiden Test as captain since Graham Yallop in 1978.

It was his second century of the series after his unbeaten 162 in the first Test victory in Adelaide last weekend and a fourth in eight Tests this year.

It was Johnson's pugnacious 93-ball knock, though, that turned the day in Australia's favour after he arrived at the crease an hour into play with his team tottering and well short of India's tally of 408.

Fired up by some sledging from the tourists, the paceman stopped the rot in no uncertain fashion by clubbing the ball around the ground with 13 fours and one six.

The lefthander looked to be heading for his second Test century when he chased an Ishant delivery only to get a top edge which Mahendra Singh Dhoni snaffled up behind the stumps.

Smith, who had brought up his sixth Test century with his 10th four through the covers just before lunch, followed five balls later when he chopped on to be dismissed for the first time in the series.

For the first hour, however, it had looked like being India's morning after an Ishant inswinger bowled Mitchell Marsh for seven and Brad Haddin fended a short Varun Aaron delivery straight to Cheteshwar Pujara at short leg for six.

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India 71/1 at stumps, trail Australia by 26

Skipper Steve Smith scored a controlled 133, Mitchell Johnson a game-changing 88 and Australia's tail wagged vigorously as the hosts barged their way back into the second Test against India on day three in Brisbane on Friday.

The hosts took a first innings lead of 97 after being dismissed for 505 after tea and India had shaved 71 runs off the deficit by the close of play at the cost of one second innings wicket.

Murali Vijay, who contributed 144 to India's first innings tally of 408, departed for 27, leaving Shikhar Dhawan (26 not out) and Cheteshwar Pujara, who had made 15, to resume on day four 26 runs behind.

Australia had looked to be facing a sizeable deficit of their own when they lost two wickets in the first hour to slip to 247-6 but Smith and Johnson combined for a Gabba record seventh-wicket partnership of 148 runs from 160 balls.

Both fell to paceman Ishant Sharma in the same over an hour after lunch but Mitchell Starc (52) continued the resistance with his fourth Test half century and partnerships of 56 with Nathan Lyon (23) and 51 with Josh Hazlewood (32 not out).

Starc was the last Australian batsman to fall but the left-armer returned after the innings break to bowl Vijay when the Indian made the mistake of leaving an angled delivery.

SECOND CENTURY

Smith, deputising for the injured Michael Clarke, became the first Australian to score a century in his maiden Test as captain since Graham Yallop in 1978.

It was his second century of the series after his unbeaten 162 in the opening Test victory in Adelaide last weekend and a fourth in eight matches this year.

It was Johnson's pugnacious 93-ball knock, though, that turned the day in Australia's favour after Indian controlled the first hour and dismissed Mitchell Marsh and Brad Haddin cheaply.

Fired up by some sledging and short balls from the tourists, paceman Johnson stopped the rot in no uncertain fashion by clubbing the ball around the ground with 13 fours and one six.

The lefthander looked to be heading for his second Test century when he chased an Ishant delivery only to get a top edge which Mahendra Singh Dhoni snaffled up behind the stumps.

Smith, who had brought up his century with his 10th four just before lunch, followed five balls later when he chopped on to be dismissed for the first time in the four-match series.

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Australians face the heat at Gabba

Written By kom nampultig on Kamis, 18 Desember 2014 | 21.24

BRISBANE: Aussie pacers seemed to be falling like ninepins in Wednesday's sweltering heat at the Gabba, but humour wasn't in short supply at the end of the day's play.

As Murali Vijay and company continued piling on the agony, Mitchell Marsh (right hamstring), Josh Hazlewood (cramps), Mitchell Starc (rib pain) and even Mitchell Johnson (side strain) experienced various levels of discomfort.

With Ryan Harris already out because of a quad strain, it made for comical scenes when team physio Alex Kountouris informed that Michael Clarke had had an operation on the tendons in his right hamstring. Someone interrupted his train of thought by asking how the hamstring was, to which Kountouris replied, "Whose hamstring? I've lost track." It turned out the query was directed at Mitchell Marsh. "Good job, mate," someone else chimed in. Kountouris looked pained. Asked if Mitchell Johnson also had an appointment with him, Kountouris snapped back, "Not before 7.30 pm tomorrow."

Kountouris clarified that Mitchell Marsh, who left the field, might bat but his bowling role would be limited in this Test. "He had cramps all over his body. Both calves, both hamstrings, groins, hips," Kountouris said of Hazelwood in all seriousness, adding that the debutant had performed through pain. It was only greeted with giggles.

"We expect him to bowl tomorrow," retorted the physio. Starc too is expected to bowl. Ironically , the only man whose fitness levels seemed above par in the whole scenario was Shane Watson, who has had a history of breakdowns.

"It's been an eventful day," was how Darren Lehamann put it. Asked what he thought of Australia's slow over rate, he said, "I don't think much of it. Look, we were okay in the first session, very good in the second session and very poor in the third session. We just couldn't hit our lengths and we bowled too full and too wide."

The Aussies haven't lost at the Gabba in 26 years, but that seems to offer cold comfort at the moment. Maybe the thunderstorms forecast for Thursday and Friday might offer a new twist.

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2nd Test: Smith leads Australia's reply

BRISBANE (Australia): Steve Smith continued his unbeaten run with a half century in his first Test match as captain, guiding Australia to 221-4 in reply to India's 408 before bad light stopped play on Day two of the second Test.

Standing in for injured captain Michael Clarke, the 25-year-old Smith followed up his unbeaten innings of 162 and 52 in the first Test win last week with 65 not out on Thursday.

Momentum swung around on another sultry day at the Gabba, which finished under stormy skies.

Nine wickets fell in the first two sessions after India resumed at a commanding 311-4. The Australians took six wickets for 97 to dismiss India before lunch, with paceman Josh Hazlewood snaring 5-68 on his Test debut and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin equaling an Australian record with six catches.

Australia lost three wickets for 121 in the middle session, before putting on 100 for the loss of one wicket after tea. Umesh Yadav was the pick of India's bowlers, taking 3-48 from 13 overs.

"We are in front of the game at this point of time," said India offspinner Ravi Ashwin, who scored 35, took a wicket and held two catches in his recall match after missing the first test in Adelaide. "I fancy myself getting them out tomorrow morning - 400 is enough if we can get a couple of wickets tomorrow morning then we're right in front."

The Australian top order made starts but failed to go on, with David Warner (29) and Shane Watson (25) falling to bad shots before Chris Rogers was out on the last ball before tea for 55, his first test half century since February.

Smith and Shaun Marsh, who was recalled in the absence of Clarke, combined for 87 runs in as many minutes to get the hosts within 200 of India before the fourth wicket fell.

Smith thumped Ashwin over the long-on boundary twice and cut him for four in one over that yielded 16 runs after the Indian off-spinner had conceded just 19 runs in his first 11 overs.

Marsh, who twice dropped Murali Vijay on Wednesday before the Indian opener scored 144, had his own reprieve on 32 but didn't make it pay.

He top-edged an attempted pull shot against Varun Aaron, skying the ball to leg gully, where Ajinkya Rahane put down a regulation chance that was well within range of wicketkeeper and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Marsh didn't add to his score before he was out two overs later, edging a steeply-rising ball from Yadav to Ashwin at slip.

On 63, Smith looked up to the sky to acknowledge his former teammate Phillip Hughes, who was on that score in a Sheffield Shield match last month when he was hit by a short ball and later died in hospital. The four-Test series against India series was rescheduled after Hughes' death, and Australia's players are again wearing black armbands in his honor.

Earlier, India started the day with high expectations of continuing an assault on a beleaguered Australian bowling attack that wilted in hot and humid conditions on day one.

But both of India's overnight batsmen were out quickly with Rahane (81) edging Hazlewood to Haddin and Rohit Sharma (32) spectacularly caught by a diving Smith at second slip off Watson.

Hazlewood then switched ends and removed Ashwin (35) and Dhoni (33) to hasten India's slide.

"That was a pretty important time - to get a few early ones today was crucial to our success," Hazlewood said. "Yesterday was a pretty tough slog, out in the heat, but we all came out well and ... picked up the last six wickets for about where we wanted them.

"Confidence is sky high."

Haddin's six dismissals equaled the Australian Test record for wicketkeepers, shared by Wally Grout, Rod Marsh and Ian Healy.

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Australia hand India initiative at tea

BRISBANE: India picked up three crucial wickets in the post-lunch session, including that off half-centurion Chris Rogers, as Australia made 121 for three in their first innings at tea on the second day of the second Test on Thursday.

Umesh Yadav dismissed Rogers (55 runs, 79 balls, 10 fours) just at the stroke of tea to bring India back into the contest.

Australia were 121 for three in 24.5 overs at the break in reply to India's 408 all out. The hosts currently trail India by 287 runs.

Rogers clipped a Yadav (2/35) delivery to give India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni a simple catch behind the stumps. The left-arm opener's dismissal was the last action of the post-lunch session. Australia skipper Steve Smith (6 not out) was the unbeaten batsman at the other end.

Rogers had been under some pressure after failing in the Adelaide Test, when he walked out to open the innings with David Warner (29 runs, 28 balls, 6 fours).

For India, Ishant Sharma (0-35) and Varun Aaron (0-46) took the new ball but returned wicketless.

While Aaron mended his ways from the first Test and displayed much better control of the ball, Ishant proved to be expensive as he went for 29 runs in just three overs.

Warner was at his aggressive best as he gave a speedy start to Australia's innings once again. He struck six fours in his short stay at the wicket and as a result Yadav was brought into the attack in only the seventh over.

Playing his first Test since 2012, Yadav not only bowled the quickest delivery of the match, but also removed the dangerous-looking Warner. The batsman went for a pull but only ended up mistiming the shot, caught at first slip by R Ashwin (1/5).

Warner's wicket brought Shane Watson (25 runs, 29 balls, 4 fours) to the crease and he did not let the momentum down scoring at a brisk pace.

With Rogers, he added a quick-fire 51 runs for the second wicket. Their 50-run partnership came off only 63 balls in the 19th over.

With Rogers and Watson finding it easy against the pacers, Dhoni introduced spin in the 18th over and Ashwin struck in his second over.

Ashwin removed Watson when the batsman stepped out in search of a big shot but mistimed it only to find Shikhar Dhawan at mid-on, who took a fine low catch.

Rogers then brought up his sixth Test half-century in the 21st over as also the Australian 100-run mark. He faced 73 balls to get there and snapped his run of eight innings without a fifty.

With tea round the corner and the match in balance, he had added 23 runs with Smith but got out just prior to the break, handing India the initiative.

Earlier, debutant Josh Hazlewood grabbed a fifer as India lost six wickets in the extended morning session to be bowled out for 408 in their first innings at lunch.

Hazzlewood returned with impressive figures of 5 for 68, picking up three of them this morning, as the visitors lost their last six wickets for just 97 runs to be bowled out in 109.4 overs.

Play started on time this morning despite seven overs not being bowled on day one, with Ajinkya Rahane (81 runs, 132 balls, 8 fours) and Rohit Sharma (32 runs, 55 balls, 3 fours, 1 six) looking to build on their 50-run partnership.

Except Mitchell Marsh (1/14), Australia had all their other bowlers back in the field and looked to improve their performance from the third and final session last evening.

And they succeeded, particularly Hazlewood as he bowled a nagging off-stump line and moved the second new ball enough to trouble the Indian batsmen.

The Indian batters especially found it difficult to tackle Hazzlewood's outswingers as he picked up all three wickets this morning using that delivery.

First Hazzlewood accounted for Rahane, in only the third over of the day, with a beauty of an outswinger. Rahane was struck at the crease and only managed to edge it to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, who registered his fifth catch of sixth dismissal of the innings.

Rahane's dismissal brought skipper Dhoni (33 runs, 53 balls, 4 fours) at the crease but despite Rohit being set at the other end, runs dried up.

Watson (1-39) then removed Rohit in the 92nd over. The talented Mumbai batsman went for a drive to a wide delivery only to loft it in the air and young Australia captain Smith held a beautiful catch at the second slip, diving low to his right.

It brought Ashwin (35 runs, 41 balls, 6 fours) at the crease and together with Dhoni and the duo added 57 runs for the seventh wicket in quick time.

Dhoni and Ashwin's 50-run partnership came off just 54 balls in the 101st just after India reached the 350-mark had in the 96th over.

The duo was looking good for a lot more, but Hazlewood had other plans when he returned to the attack in the 103rd over.

Ashwin had looked good so far, playing with his usual comfort and solidity, but he received a good outgoing delivery from the debutant bowler and only ended up edging it behind to Watson at first slip.

Two overs later, Hazlewood removed Dhoni as well, the batsman looking to leave an inswinging ball only to edge it to Haddin.

While India's 400-mark came up in the 107th over, Nathan Lyon (3/105) thereafter polished off the tail with two quick wickets. His first victim was Varun Aaron (4) as substitute fielder Marnus Labuschnage held a stunning catch at forward short leg. It was supposedly the last delivery before lunch but the fall of wicket extended the session by half an hour.

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2nd Test: Smith leads Australia's reply

BRISBANE (Australia): Steve Smith continued his unbeaten run with a half century in his first Test match as captain, guiding Australia to 221-4 in reply to India's 408 before bad light stopped play on Day two of the second Test.

Standing in for injured captain Michael Clarke, the 25-year-old Smith followed up his unbeaten innings of 162 and 52 in the first Test win last week with 65 not out on Thursday.

Momentum swung around on another sultry day at the Gabba, which finished under stormy skies.

Nine wickets fell in the first two sessions after India resumed at a commanding 311-4. The Australians took six wickets for 97 to dismiss India before lunch, with paceman Josh Hazlewood snaring 5-68 on his Test debut and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin equaling an Australian record with six catches.

Australia lost three wickets for 121 in the middle session, before putting on 100 for the loss of one wicket after tea. Umesh Yadav was the pick of India's bowlers, taking 3-48 from 13 overs.

"We are in front of the game at this point of time," said India offspinner Ravi Ashwin, who scored 35, took a wicket and held two catches in his recall match after missing the first test in Adelaide. "I fancy myself getting them out tomorrow morning - 400 is enough if we can get a couple of wickets tomorrow morning then we're right in front."

The Australian top order made starts but failed to go on, with David Warner (29) and Shane Watson (25) falling to bad shots before Chris Rogers was out on the last ball before tea for 55, his first test half century since February.

Smith and Shaun Marsh, who was recalled in the absence of Clarke, combined for 87 runs in as many minutes to get the hosts within 200 of India before the fourth wicket fell.

Smith thumped Ashwin over the long-on boundary twice and cut him for four in one over that yielded 16 runs after the Indian off-spinner had conceded just 19 runs in his first 11 overs.

Marsh, who twice dropped Murali Vijay on Wednesday before the Indian opener scored 144, had his own reprieve on 32 but didn't make it pay.

He top-edged an attempted pull shot against Varun Aaron, skying the ball to leg gully, where Ajinkya Rahane put down a regulation chance that was well within range of wicketkeeper and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Marsh didn't add to his score before he was out two overs later, edging a steeply-rising ball from Yadav to Ashwin at slip.

On 63, Smith looked up to the sky to acknowledge his former teammate Phillip Hughes, who was on that score in a Sheffield Shield match last month when he was hit by a short ball and later died in hospital. The four-Test series against India series was rescheduled after Hughes' death, and Australia's players are again wearing black armbands in his honor.

Earlier, India started the day with high expectations of continuing an assault on a beleaguered Australian bowling attack that wilted in hot and humid conditions on day one.

But both of India's overnight batsmen were out quickly with Rahane (81) edging Hazlewood to Haddin and Rohit Sharma (32) spectacularly caught by a diving Smith at second slip off Watson.

Hazlewood then switched ends and removed Ashwin (35) and Dhoni (33) to hasten India's slide.

"That was a pretty important time - to get a few early ones today was crucial to our success," Hazlewood said. "Yesterday was a pretty tough slog, out in the heat, but we all came out well and ... picked up the last six wickets for about where we wanted them.

"Confidence is sky high."

Haddin's six dismissals equaled the Australian Test record for wicketkeepers, shared by Wally Grout, Rod Marsh and Ian Healy.

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Vijay hits fifty before Australia strike back

Written By kom nampultig on Rabu, 17 Desember 2014 | 21.24

Indian opener Murali Vijay got his third half century of the series but debutant Josh Hazlewood took two wickets as Australia restricted the tourists to 151 for three at tea on the opening day of the second Test in Brisbane on Wednesday.

Vijay had put on 56 in an opening partnership with Shikhar Dhawan and survived a period of intense pressure on a sweltering day at the Gabba to remain at the crease unbeaten on 72 after the second session with Ajinkya Rahane, who was 13 not out.

Hazlewood's first wicket may have been fortuitous, with Cheteshwar Pujara adjudged caught behind for 18 even though TV replays clearly showed the ball had clipped his helmet, but his second was all about pace and bounce.

The 23-year-old, whose inclusion was one of three changes to the Australia side from the first Test win, tempted Virat Kohli into attempting a cut and the erstwhile India skipper was caught behind for 19 after only managing a thick edge.

Vijay and Dhawan (24) had earlier vindicated returning captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's decision to bat first when they survived some early movement to post India's first half century opening stand on the road in more than three years.

All rounder Mitchell Marsh made the breakthrough with his maiden Test wicket in the following over, however, when Dhawan slashed at a short, wide delivery and Brad Haddin snaffled up the top edge behind the stumps.

Vijay reached his ninth Test half century with crunching drive through the covers for four and things looked bleak for Australia when Marsh was forced off the field with a right hamstring problem.

Steve Smith, who was presented with a blazer before the start of play to signify his becoming Australia's 45th Test skipper as a stand-in for the injured Michael Clarke, got the response he wanted from his players, however.

The fielding went up a gear and the bowlers stifled the Indian batsmen to the extent that they were only able to add 62 runs in the second session to their lunch score of 89/1.

Australia won the first Test in Adelaide by 48 runs at the weekend to take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series, which was rejigged in the wake of the death of Phillip Hughes and concludes with Tests in Melbourne and Sydney.

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Can Ashwin turn adversity into triumph?

BRISBANE: Ronald Wayne, Apple cofounder along with Jobs and Wozniack, sold his 10% stake for $2,300. It would have been worth $60 million now. Pete Best lost his place in the Beatles to Ringo Starr in 1962, just before the band hit the big payday. John Travolta turned down Tom Hanks' role in Forrest Gump. Bill Finger missed out on being co-credited for creating Batman.

And Ravichandran Ashwin got left out of the Indian side in Adelaide.

How Ashwin, whose overseas record is a very poor 12 wickets from six games at 64.5 and a strike rate of 122.7, must be ruing the day Virat Kohli decided to opt for Karn Sharma. India went on to lose at the venue and the absence of a potent off spinner was a decisive factor.

Ashwin sat and watched from the sidelines - and even engaged in some friendly banter with fans - as Nathan Lyon in the opposition ripped grenades into the rough and bagged the best-ever figures for a spinner against India.

Having missed out on the chance to improve his figures and maybe earn India a win, Ashwin, it seems, is now in the scheme of things for the Gabba, where the pace and bounce overshadows everything else. Cruel, cruel fate, Ashwin must be thinking. To add to the expectations, captain MS Dhoni said he thinks Ashwin has a good chance of putting up an impressive show if he plays.

Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja is out injured - he has a "left shoulder impingement," according to the team management - thrusting Ashwin firmly into the lead spinner's role.

Strangely, it was Ashwin's batting that Dhoni chose to talk about first. "Ashwin is definitely someone who can bat lower down the order. We feel that is very important...at times we have lost No.8, 9 and 10 cheaply. The batsman at the other end hasn't got support. It would be a great help to have someone like Ashwin at the other end because he not only spends time in the middle but also scores fluently.

"With Mitchell (Johnson) bowling left-arm over the wicket and others bowling round the wicket, there will be footmarks which an off-spinner will be able to exploit better than a left-arm spinner or a leg-spinner." Dhoni, incidentally said he prefers playing on greentops, since his bowlers have a better chance of bagging 20 wickets. "It makes our job easier to get the opposition out," he suggested, but playing five bowlers may be a gamble. "It is unfair on Rohit Sharma, who will be out after just playing a Test," Dhoni said when asked if he was considering the possibility.

India have picked up 20 wickets twice at the Gabba, and while the seamers are expected to do the bulk of the work, Ashwin may still get to play the surprise guest star. India's best-ever bowling figures here belong to legendary offie Erapalli Prasanna, with 6-104 in the 1967-68 Test.

There are other, more immediate examples. Nathan Lyon has taken 15 wickets at 21.86 in three Tests and repeatedly said he loves bowling here.

"Bounce is a big weapon for me, so I`m looking forward to getting a bit more bounce out there. I love playing at the Gabba, it's a great venue full stop," Lyon said at the start of the season, adding: "I'm confident in my skill to get the job done no matter what or where I play."

Ashwin needs to rip that page from Lyon's book if he gets an opportunity.

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