Third Test: India opener Shikhar Dhawan to take his chance against Australia
Last Updated: 15/03/13 7:23am
India will hand a debut to opener Shikhar Dhawan in Thursday's third Test as they look to put the boot into an underfire Australia side.
The tourists' preparations for the match in Mohali have been overshadowed by the decision to drop Shane Watson, James Pattinson, Usman Khawaja and Mitchell Johnson for disciplinary reasons.
That has left coach Mickey Arthur has only 12 players to choose from - and with wicketkeeper Matthew Wade struggling an ankle injury, Brad Haddin has been called up as replacement if needed.
On the pitch, Australia trail 2-0 in the four-Test series after heavy defeats in the opening two matches - meaning they face a mountain to climb if they are to salvage a draw.
India, on the other hand, head into the third match full of confidence following to outstanding displays.
Dhawan will open the batting in place of the experienced Virender Sehwag, who has been dropped after a dip in form, and the 27-year-old said: "I was very happy to hear the news (of my selection). I just want to grab this opportunity.
"Of course I was waiting for this day, but I don't have any pressure right now. I am happy that whatever I dreamt of achieving, I have done that."
Cheteshwar Pujara, who scored a double century in the second Test, suffered a knee injury in the nets earlier this week but is expected to be fit in time.
Australia skipper Michael Clarke will move up the batting order from No 5 and his presence will be needed even more in the absence of vice-captain Watson.
Despite the upheaval and negative press, Arthur is hoping the players can put their recent troubles to one side and focus on their cricket instead.
"We now must look ahead to the third Test," he said. "It's going to be far, far from easy but our new goal is to try and level this series and somehow manage to take the Border-Gavaskar Trophy back home with us.
"People will say we're kidding ourselves and there is no doubt it's going to be a big ask, but now is the start of that turning point where we take our on and off field standards as high as we can."