Buoyant India look to wrap up series

India hope their seven Test winning streak at Kotla continues as they look to seal the series against Australia.

Ricky Ponting gets in some much needed net practice ahead of the all important third Test in New Delhi.
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NEW DEHLI // Rahul Dravid is looking for India to complete a series victory at the Feroz Shah Kotla when they take on Australia in the third Test today. And though Harbhajan Singh's availability became doubtful, India's impressive record at the venue tilted the balance the hosts' way. Harbhajan's recovery from a toe injury in the second Test will be ascertained before the start of play.

"It's a great venue for us," Dravid said. "I haven't played in a Test that we have lost here, so it's always nice to return." India have won their last seven Tests at the venue. "Hopefully we will wrap it up here and make it eight in a row." Dravid, however, warned his teammates to expect a backlash from Australia. "They have not seen many failures and will be keen to come back. They will be hurting and will want to prove a point here."

India announced their 12, with captain Anil Kumble returning after missing the second Test with a sore shoulder. India's South African coach Gary Kirsten indicated that Mishra, who took seven wickets at Mohali, might have to sit out. "If Kumble is fit, he'll play the next match in place of Mishra," Kirsten said. "He is looking good and we are happy with the way things have progressed." Kumble has a formidable record at the Kotla. It was here that Kumble claimed all 10 wickets in an innings against Pakistan in 1999 and he has so far snared 55 wickets in six Tests at an average of 15.41.

Mishra could still retain his place if Harbhajan fails to make it. "We are not sure about Harbhajan," Kirsten said. "It could be a case of overuse. We will assess his condition again tomorrow." Australia, rattled by the loss in Mohali, have brought in the Indian spinner Bishen Singh Bedi and the former captain Steve Waugh to help with the preparations - mainly of the bowlers. "Zaheer Khan is extremely skilful with the old and new ball. He's always finding ways to get wickets," the all-rounder Shane Watson said.

"Harbhajan is bowling extremely well. He just doesn't give up and gives you very little. "That's something we need to do as a bowling group as well." The Australia captain Ricky Ponting also said that the opener Mathew Hayden went overboard in his aggressive counter of the bowlers. "I've made a point of talking to every player over the past couple of days," Ponting wrote in a newspaper column. "That includes a good chat with Hayden about the way he batted during the second innings of the second Test, when he took on Zaheer Khan.

"Haydos [Hayden] plays his best cricket when he gets himself locked into a one-on-one battle with a bowler. There's no doubt about that. "He went beyond that in the second innings with Zaheer after Zaheer had dismissed him in the first three innings. He got to 29 and didn't need to go hard any more." * PA Sport