The spotlight is firmly trained on the pitch as an ambitious India brace up for what is expected to be a high-voltage battle of attrition against Australia in the third cricket Test starting at Ranchi in India today (Thursday), reports rediff.com.
The four-match Border-Gavaskar Trophy is locked at 1-1 and the match at Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA), which is organising it's first-ever Test, is set to be a make-or-break affair for both teams.
The wicket for the first Test in Pune was rated poor, while the Bengaluru surface, where the second match was played, has been deemed "below average" by match referee Chris Broad.
Trailing 0-1 following a shocking 331-run defeat in the opener, India will enter the match with new-found confidence having scripted a brilliant fight-back in Bengaluru.
Now, heading into the match, both teams are wary of the pitch.
A few days ago, Dhoni, who is currently in Delhi leading Jharkhand in the domestic one-dayers, was seen with the curator during the pitch preparations.
On the surface, the 22-yard strip looks tailor-made for spinners, even as the local officials maintain it will last the distance.
India's head coach Anil Kumble took a long look at the pitch in consultation with East Zone curator Ashish Bhowmick, assessing its firmness.
It was watered in the morning and there were a few spells of rain about a week back, explaining its moisture on the surface.
Having posted 600-plus totals in their previous three innings before this series, the home team's batting is yet to live up to expectations.
None of India's big guns have yet posted a century.
With three half centuries, KL Rahul has been the leading run-getter in the series, while Kohli, who is having a rare lean patch against the Aussies, will look to break the drought.
Kohli has just 40 runs from four innings, a dry spell coming after a year full of runs, in which the Indian captain slammed 1457 runs from nine Tests and led the side to a 19-match unbeaten run before the Pune debacle.
India owe the win in Bengaluru to Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, who revived the home team's chances in Bengaluru with their 118-run fifth-wicket partnership, the only century partnership of the series so far.
Having recovered from a shoulder injury, opener Murali Vijay looks set replace Abhinav Mukund, which will give the opening combination a more settled look, for the crucial encounter.
A win away from retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, the Aussies have received a body blow with the exclusion of pacer Mitchell Starc from the rest of the series after suffering a stress fracture.