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Unpredictability reigns ahead of Guwahati ODI

By Bikash Mohapatra
November 07, 2009 19:50 IST
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That's the word that defines best the sixth One-Day International between India and Australia in Guwahati on Sunday.

From the weather, to the nature of the wicket, to the teams, everything seems unpredictable.

Sample this:

Two days before the match an Assam Cricket Association (ACA) official averred that the weather would ensure a delay.

Though the match is scheduled to start early (at 0830 IST), it will be impossible to commence before at least 10.30 am, as there will be dew on the wicket.

"A 50-over match is impossible," he said.

However, on the eve of the match, his observations seemed far-fetched with the outfield not as wet as he had foretold. The gentleman stuck to his view though. And since he is a local, we preferred not to argue.

The wicket is two-faced (read unpredictable) and both the teams are in a dilemma -- whether to include an additional spinner or to stick to the existing line-up.

Indian captain's M S Dhoni's summation of the pitch was a witty one-liner: "Looks like it is a classic sub-continent wicket," he said.

The Aussies were clueless.

"Am not quite sure about the wicket," admitted Michael Hussey. "But it seems to be a slow wicket with not much bounce. You won't see a 350-plus total like it happened in Hyderabad."

The visitors are equally clueless of what to do should they win the toss?

"I don't know what to do, as I have never been here before," said Hussey, before making a cautious addition, "One thing that I do know is that we have to do well whatever we do first, batting or bowling.

"It might be a good toss to lose."

The composition of the teams remains unpredictable as well. While Mitchell Johnson's re-inclusion in the Australian squad is still under wraps, Team India, as usual, has kept the announcement waiting till just before the game.

"I don't announce the playing eleven. It will be a suspense," said Dhoni, with a smile.

Virender Sehwag skipped the nets session on Saturday morning and the rest just loitered around a bit. However, India's captained dispelled any thoughts of Sehwag not playing, saying: "It was an optional practice session, that's why he wasn't there."

Leggie Amit Mishra though had an extended run, giving rise to speculation that he may be included in place of Munaf Patel.

And, lastly, the result again can't be predicted.

The hosts are certainly the more powerful team on paper but that strength hasn't exactly translated into an on-the-field performance -- Australia's 3-2 series lead being an apt indicator.

Or, as Dhoni summed it up: "The first priority is to be in the series, so we have to win the next game.

"We are concentrating on that. We aren't thinking too far ahead for the last game."

So till Team India actually wins it is better to keep mum.

The visitors, with this makeshift side, will never go in as favourites in any case, their last two wins notwithstanding.

The only thing that is predictable amidst all this unpredictability is the fact that the match will definitely finish early -- for visibility is poor after 4.30 local time, and floodlights, though present, aren't functional!.

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Bikash Mohapatra in Guwahati