India vs Australia battles have always been intriguing and the current series has been no different. Be it Australia's unexpected victory on a raging during the first Test at Pune, India's resilient comeback in the second Test at Bangalore or the battle of attrition at Ranchi, this series has been one to remember both on and off field.
So with all to play for, both teams are now set for the final battle of a memorable series where the winner takes it all in the fourth Test. The action begins on Saturday at the picturesque surrounding of the HPCA stadium at Dharamsala, India's 27th Test venue. Team India have had a terrific home season, winning 9 out of the 12 Tests and are assured of finishing atop the ICC Test rankings on the cut-off date of April 1, 2017. However the outcome of the Dharamsala Test will determine whether this young side will gear up for tougher challenges abroad in the future or hit a roadblock in that pursuit.
The 'head of the snake' Virat Kohli remains an uncertain starter and the onus will once again be on Cheteshwar Pujara (348 runs from 3 Tests v Aus, avg: 69.60) and KL Rahul (282 runs from 3 Tests v Aus, avg: 56.40) to come up with the goods on what is expected to be a seaming track. In particular, Pujara has been in roaring form through the home season, becoming the first batsman in Test history to hit hundreds in the maiden Tests at four venues (vs New Zealand in Indore, vs England in Rajkot, vs England in Vizag and vs Australia in Ranchi). Every Indian fan would be hoping he comes good in Dharamsala as well!
Lower down the order, Wriddhiman Saha has been terrific with the gloves and bat as well (hit his third Test ton at Ranchi). Amongst the bowlers, Ravindra Jadeja (21 wickets in 3 Tests v Aus) has excelled in the series, overshadowing Ravichandran Ashwin (17 wickets in 3 Tests v Aus) who has looked out of sorts. It would also be pretty interesting to see how effective Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma are in the conditions that favour the pacers. Our Knight, Yadav having appeared in 11 out of the 12 home Tests this season, would want to end the season on a high. He has been immaculate with his line and length, picking up 12 crucial wickets at an average of 25.00, which is third best in both camps.
Australia have performed way better than the last time (whitewashed 4-0 in 2013) they played a Test series in India. Captain Steven Smith (371 runs from 3 Tests v Aus, avg: 74.20), with two vital hundreds, has been the leading run-scorer in the series. Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb's match-saving partnership was one of the highlights of the Ranchi Test and the team management would hope of showing a similar batting effort at Dharamsala. Matt Renshaw (223 runs from 3 Tests v Aus, avg: 37.16) has shown maturity but it is the form of David Warner, which is a matter of concern. Warner has scored just 131 runs in the six innings and would be under immense pressure to perform in the last Test. On the bowling front, Pat Cummins impressed on his comeback and he along with Josh Hazlewood would be itching to ball in the seamer-friendly conditions.
So it is all to play for the Indian team at the scenic stadium of Dharamsala. A draw here means Australia will retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy (they won the 2014-15 series 2-0 at home) on the virtue of series finishing 1-1. However a win at this venue and they would replicate the achievements of the wonder boys of 2004, who beat India 2-1. However Team India will give it their all as they aim to register a 2-1 series win and regain the Border Gavaskar trophy.