Aus will miss Mohali masters Watson, Johnson this time
With pride hurt and the series on the line, Australia are desperate to snatch a victory in the third Test against India, which commences at Mohali on Thursday.
They will also be keen on avenging the one-wicket defeat they suffered when they last played at this venue in 2010. Only three players from that Australian team -- Michael Clarke, Shane Watson and Mitchell Johnson -- are on this trip.
While Clarke has graduated to the role of captain, Watson and Johnson will not figure in the Test after being dropped for not obeying team orders.
What's going to pinch the visitors is the fact that Watson and Johnson were Australia's top players in that Test of 2010, while Clarke failed to fire with the bat, getting out cheaply in both innings.
Watson, opening the innings smashed 126 and 56 in the second essay, while left-arm pacer Johnson claimed five for 64 in the first innings.
Image: Shane Watson
Photographs: Morne de Klerk/Getty Images
Johnson's role is limited to the nets
In normal circumstances, Australia would have been looking for inspiration from the two suspended players who along with James Pattinson and Usman Khawaja were dropped for failing to make a presentation on how to improve their personal as well as the team's performance after the innings and 135 runs defeat in the second Test in Hyderabad.
While Watson has flown back to Australia to be with his wife for the birth of their first child, Johnson's role is limited to the nets, where he is helping teammates prepare for the Test.
Watson was included a specialist batsman on this trip after he was unable to resume bowling following an injury. But he failed to come good with the bat, scoring 77 runs in the two matches, at an average of 19.25.In fact, since that hundred in Mohali two years back, he hasn't hit the three-figure mark again. His record in the last six Tests is poor, just one half-century in 11 innings.
Image: Mitchell Johnson bowling in the nets on Tuesday
The Aussies are firmly with their backs against the wall
Perhaps, no Australia side has performed as poorly in India. Their top three batsmen -- David Warner, Ed Cowan and Phil Hughes, all left-handers -- average below the 30-run mark after the first two Tests in the ongoing series. Simply put, the inability to put up the runs is why they haven't been able to push home.
The bowlers, except James Pattinson, also failed to make an impression despite Australia giving all the three spinners a go in both the games.
With just 13 players to choose from for the Mohali Test, the Aussies are firmly with their backs against the wall.
Following the recent retirements of Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey, they look weaker than ever and the onus is on Michael Clarke to lead from the front and bail them out of the current crisis.
Mohali could be a defining moment.
Image: Michael Clarke and Mickey Arthur before a training session in the nets on Tuesday