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Hazlewood expects result wicket for decider

Australia fast bowler Josh Hazlewood expected a result-oriented pitch for the series-deciding fourth Test against India in Dharamsala, though not necessarily the juicy kind that helped Adam Gilchrist's team clinch the most recent Australian victory in India, 13 years ago.

Dharamsala is the home ground of the deposed former BCCI president Anurag Thakur, and differences between a state association and the Indian board's leadership were at the heart of the grassy pitch served up in Nagpur in 2004. The disconnect ultimately provided a priceless advantage to the visitors, who at that stage had Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Michael Kasprowicz in their bowling attack alongside Shane Warne.

Hazlewood, though, has memories of the sluggish surface the HPCA ground served up at the World T20, when Mitchell McClenaghan's cutters and Mitchell Santner's left-arm spin spearheaded a victory for New Zealand. Knowing that India must win the match to regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Hazlewood did not think the relatively friendly batting conditions in Ranchi will be replicated.

"I think the wicket will determine a result," he said. "They need to win so the wicket they serve up will bring a result into the game. The pressure is firmly on them. We can draw it but we obviously want to win it, win 2-1 and win a series in India, which rarely happens.

"I'd love to see it fast and bouncy. But that's what they said in Pune as well and we didn't quite get that. I think the way they saw Pat Cummins bowl the other day, they don't really want it any faster than Ranchi, I wouldn't think. We'd love it to be that way, would feel a bit more like home, but I don't think we'll get that."

"We played New Zealand here in the T20 World Cup nearly 12 months ago. It spun quite a bit that game. They can make it however they want, really. It sometimes has pace and bounce and sometimes has spin. Guess we'll find out."

Equanimity about conditions and match situations has been a hallmark of the Australian approach in this series, and Hazlewood retained his laconic streak when pondering the physical toll of spending more than two complete days in the field in the last game.

"You're probably going to bowl that many overs in a Test match, it's just the fact we did it one go," he said. "It was a long time out in the field but that's what you prepare for and that's what a Test match brings. Everyone has pulled up well and ready to go again.

"I might roll the arm over lightly just to see how it goes. We've bowled enough so far this series and we've been playing non-stop for a long time now so we know what we're doing bowling-wise it's just a matter of recovering and preparing for the next Test as best we can."

The tourists' due diligence on the fitness of the recalled Cummins included precautionary back scans between Tests. It was a source of relief to medical staff both in India and back home that they came up clear.

"It's great to have him back," Hazlewood said. "I've spent a lot of time with Patty [at New South Wales] and finally got to play a Test with him last week which was great. I think everyone was taken aback by the way he bowled and to get that lift and pace off the wicket like that. He's a pretty special player and to bring that extra pace is what you need sometimes on those wickets to get those breakthroughs.

"He's going to be great if he can stay on the park and join the [fast bowlers'] cartel and have a good partnership moving forward. You never want to see guys in the sidelines injured, and Pat's obviously been playing for a majority part of this year in one-day cricket and T20s. But it's great to see him back in the Test format. He obviously had a great hit-out in that last Test and bowled fast for the whole duration, so it's amazing what he's going to do back in Australia and on bouncy wickets in South Africa and places like that."

With the possible exception of the 2015 Ashes, Hazlewood said he has never been part of a Test match more hotly-anticipated than this one. In his mind, the pressure of the occasion will weigh heavily on India's cricketers, none more so than the captain Virat Kohli. "It's pretty exciting. We had that win in Pune, feels quite a while ago now, but we've competed for every day of Test cricket so far. We're pretty excited that if we can put a couple of good days together here in Dharamsala against a great opposition that we can come away with a win which is something you'd never forget.

"Before we came over, they were expected to win 4-0. The pressure is still firmly on them being 1-1 going into this decider and all the pressure is on them. I think the whole Indian team has [felt pressure], and probably the skipper more so. There's a little bit more pressure on him. It's just that they are expected to win in their own backyard, just as we are at home. So the more pressure we can put on the better."