In Japanese culture the number four is considered unlucky, because it’s often pronounced shi, which is also the word for death. In a few day’s time the same number may be just as unpopular in Australian culture if, as expected, they complete a clean sweep of defeats to India. As if to rub salt into the wound, Australia are likely to be without their captain and their star performer from the previous match. It’s not looking very hopeful. If only some sort of prodigal son could return from the wilderness to lead his side to the promised land. That is if you could call a slightly less crushing defeat the promised land.
We’ve been quietly impressed with how India have gone about rejigging their Dad’s Army side of a year ago. Virender Sehwag is the latest to ponder a life in the Fletcher Memorial home with his replacement Shikhar Dhawan impressing everyone with (a) his superb debut innings and as importantly (b) his moustache, which brought back fond memories of Wacky Races. To the extent that we very nearly forgot to write this preview after wasting the entire day on YouTube. Unfortunately Dhawan damaged his wrist by over-twiddling said ‘tache and will miss out, to be replaced by Ajinkya Rahane, whose debut has been delayed more often than eventually rubbish Guns and Roses album Chinese Democracy.
With the Delhi pitch expected to turn even more than the previous three matches, India might even indulge themselves in the madness of a four man spin attack. It’s not as if Ishant Sharma (4 wickets at 45) has exactly contributed much so far. Either way the over rate is unlikely to be an issue.
Yet more chaos inside the Australian camp in the few days since the third Test finished, with the tourists even managing to pick up injuries in rhyming pairs in the form of Mitchell Starc and Michael Clarke. The former is already home to undergo the now regulation annual fast bowler surgery, while the latter is (at the time of writing) attempting to prove his fitness by not training. Or even getting out of his comfy chair.
The absence of Clarke will see the pure unadulterated comedy of Captain Watto brought to the fore. A man who doesn’t deserve his place in the side, and was dropped for disciplinary reasons just a week ago, will find himself in charge of the side. Quite whether he actually wants to be responsible for the current rabble is another matter altogether. On the plus side, he’ll have James Pattinson back in the side to replace Starc. On the down side, the team is a complete shambles: the batsmen aren’t scoring enough runs, the allrounders aren’t contributing with bat or ball and the bowlers are getting carted all over the shop, particularly the spinners.
In terms of shuffling the deckchairs on the Titanic, expect to see Glenn Maxwell in for Moises Henriques and Matt Wade in for Brad Haddin. It’s not exactly likely to have India quaking in their boots; the fact of the matter is that Australia will probably take a reasonably close defeat so that they can get back home, lick their wounds and wait for the latest bits of Shane Warne’s manifesto to cheer them up.
Australia to get another hiding, despite more Devereux magic. The tourists to actually be ahead at one point, before being distracted by Penelope Pitstop and driving hilariously off a cliff. Metaphorically, unless this tour really can find a new low for Australian cricket.