Josh Hazlewood has declared the pressure is on India, Virat Kohli and even the Dharamsala curator ahead of the series decider that starts on Saturday.
Pressure was the word that prompted Kohli’s first tirade of the four-Test cricket series.
The skipper was infuriated with Australia counterpart Steve Smith for suggesting the hosts were under the pump following the series-opening boilover, accusing him of “mind games”.
Relations between the two camps have since frayed severely. The expectation is the final Test, played with everything at stake and a backdrop of snow-capped Himalayan mountains, will be particularly tense.
Hazlewood had no hesitation in pushing the out-of-form Kohli’s buttons again on Thursday.
“All the pressure is on them,” the paceman said.
“Before we came over they were expected to win four-nil. The pressure is still firmly on them (with the series) being one-all.
“The whole Indian team has (felt the pressure) and probably the skipper more so. There’s a little bit more pressure on him.
“They are expected to win in their own backyard, just as we are at home. The more pressure we can put on the better.”
The visitors trained at HPCA Stadium, arguably the world’s most scenic cricket venue, on Thursday. Smith, coach Darren Lehmann and on-duty selector Mark Waugh had more interest in the pitch than the view.
Local curator Sunil Chauhan promised earlier this week the ground would retain its pace-friendly character and “behave as it has done naturally here … it will stay fast and bouncy”.
The visitors appeared impressed with Chauhan’s centrepiece on their first visit. There was a bit of grass, no cracks and no dust. It almost resembled an Australian wicket.
If the pitch remains as is it will be a major boost to Australia’s hopes of recording their second Test series win in India since 1969. Hazlewood suspected it could look a lot different at the toss.
However, the 26-year-old noted the Board Of Control For Cricket In India (BCCI) would want some spice in the deck as another draw would mean Australia retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy.
“They need to win so the wicket they serve up will bring a result into the game,” Hazlewood said.
Chauhan offered a firm “no comment” when approached by visiting journalists on Thursday, also ordering them off his oval.
“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,” Hazlewood said.
“I’d love to see it fast and bouncy … would feel a bit more like home, but I don’t think we’ll get that.
“They saw Patty Cummins bowl the other day, they don’t really want it any faster than Ranchi I wouldn’t think.”
Meanwhile, Hazlewood declared he and Cummins were both ready to back up despite a short turnaround between Tests.
Hazlewood delivered 44 overs during India’s marathon first innings in Ranchi, which spanned 210 overs.
“You’re probably going to bowl that many overs in a Test match, it’s just the fact we did it one go … everyone has pulled up well and we’re ready to go again,” he said.