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India under fire from unexpected threat ahead of Aussie Test showdown

The final spot in the ICC Test Championship is still up for grabs.

Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma talk on the field.
India still need a victory to secure a spot in the ICC Test Championship with Australia fighting to level the series. (Getty Images)

Sri Lanka are hoping Australia do them a favour and stop India from a fourth Test victory to give them a chance of reaching the ICC Test Championship final. India need a victory in the final Test against Australia to guarantee themselves a place in the showpiece event later this year.

However, if Australia is to draw or win the final match it will give Sri Lanka a chance at history. Sri Lanka will then need to win their series against New Zealand 2-0 away from home to meet the Aussies in the final.

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Ahead of the third Test in Indore, India captain Rohit Sharma claimed the fourth Test at Narendra Modi Stadium, in Ahmedabad, could be played on a green top if they were 3-0 up in the series. However, Australia's win in Indore has complicated the scenario for the host nation.

India need a result to avoid Australia levelling the series - despite already retaining the Border-Gavaskar trophy - and the hope of preparing a green wicket to prepare for the Test match in England later this year has most likely been dashed. If the pitch shows green - as Sharma previously hinted at - it could bring Australia's quicks into the game.

Images show curators preparing two pitches for the fourth Test. And the history of the wicket at Narendra Modi Stadium will be sure to keep the Aussies guessing right up until the toss.

The last two international Tests played at the stadium, both against England, saw India's spinners take 35 of the 40 wickets. The first Test finished in under two days.

However, India might not want a heavily turning pitch to avoid bringing Nathan Lyon, who took 11 wickets across two innings at Indore, into the match. Regardless, all eyes will be on the curators and what pitch is unveiled ahead of the pivotal fourth Test, which has ramifications across Test cricket.

Sri Lanka confident of making history in New Zealand

While Sri Lanka need results to go their way, the players are only focused on the task at hand. And they know a New Zealand outfit, that just tied 1-1 against England, will be a tough challenge.

"Beating New Zealand in New Zealand is certainly going to be a huge task but last time we played some good cricket over here," veteran all-rounder Angelo Mathews told reporters on Tuesday, referring to their 1-0 defeat on the 2019 tour. "We have to play fire with fire because they're going to come hard at us."

Sri Lanka have left no stone unturned in their preparations and recently held a training camp at a new facility in the hills south of Kandy to try to simulate New Zealand's cool conditions and bouncy wickets. A team more accustomed to attacking with spin, Sri Lanka have brought a full stable of pace bowlers to New Zealand.

Tim Southee and Sri Lanka's captain Dimuth Karunaratne pose for a photo.
New Zealand's captain Tim Southee (pictured left) and Sri Lanka's captain Dimuth Karunaratne (pictured right) pose with the Test Series trophy. (Photo by SANKA VIDANAGAMA/AFP via Getty Images) (SANKA VIDANAGAMA via Getty Images)

However, none of the quicks in Sri Lanka's squad have ever played a match in New Zealand, while Milan Priyanath and seam-bowling all-rounder Chamika Karunaratne boast one Test between them. New Zealand, meanwhile, are in good spirits after pulling off a famous one-run win over England in Wellington last week.

Captain Tim Southee said the excitement around Test cricket in the nation has skyrocketed after their latest victory against England. " We haven't felt that for a while and just to have that buzz around Test cricket is great," said the fast bowler of the well-attended series.

"Hopefully, that continues over the next few weeks."

with AAP

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