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Rainy Cuttack


Rain clouds have silver lining

Australia's Test team could be the unlikely beneficiary of the unseasonably heavy rain which is disrupting the VB Tour of India one-day series.

The likely washout of Saturday's game five in Cuttack comes with one significant silver lining - the freshening up of Mitchell Johnson and Shane Watson ahead of the return Ashes in Australia.

Johnson, who has played just two Tests this year, is putting his hand up for selection in Australia's first Ashes team  for the Gabba Test, starting on November 21, on the back of impressive one-day performances in England and India.

But after bowling just 13 deliveries in Wednesday's game-four washout in Ranchi, Johnson is likely to get another rest day on Saturday and will be available for the final two games of the seven-match series in Nagpur and Bangalore.

Unseasonably heavy rain has lashed the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack for the past week, leaving the venue severely waterlogged.

And the forecast for the next week isn't much better.

Allrounder Watson and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin are both burdened with heavy workloads in the Test and ODI teams and will also greatly appreciate the additional day's rest, while skipper George Bailey is firming for a spot in the Gabba Test.

QUICK SINGLE: Hayden calls for Bailey Test call-up

Watson has been on the road for eight months playing Test, ODIs and Twenty20 for Australia as well as taking part in the Indian Premier League and Champions League campaigns for Rajasthan.

"I'm not going to say no (to a day off)," Watson said.

"I've been playing just about non-stop for the last seven or eight months.

"It's worked out that the rain has come along at certain times, even during the one-day series of England, just to freshen me up and freshen a few other players who have been playing non-stop.

"We've made the most of it when we can."

The consecutive washouts ruin Australia's opportunity to reclaim the No.1 ODI ranking from India, but possibly improves their chances of securing another series victory on the subcontinent.

"It doesn't look good at the moment, that's for sure," Watson said.

"We heard reports before we even arrived that there'd been a lot of rain and (on Thursday) night it certainly didn't stop.

"I'd be very surprised if we got on tomorrow after seeing how wet the grounds were.

"It really makes (game six) in Nagpur extremely important to try and close out the series.

"To be able to win a series in India in any format of the game is a huge challenge and it will be a great achievement."

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