India finally showed what they’re made of at home with a strong finish in the second Test in Bangalore. They’ll now be out to put Australia to the sword and take a series lead in the third Test in Ranchi.
The hosts came into the series expecting nothing less than a resounding victory, but Steve Smith and his troops surprised everyone, picking up not only a win – but a dominant one in the first Test in Pune.
The result left India stunned and with tempers flaring during a fiery second match in Bangalore, it’s all set to explode with the series on the line in Ranchi.
India bounced back to level the series, but it was far from convincing. After two days of play, Australia were well on top and on the verge of wrapping up the Border-Gavaskar trophy.
India were knocked over for 189 on a pitch where a first innings lead was going to be crucial. Nathan Lyon took eight wickets to destroy the hosts, and Australia then piled up 276, to take a commanding position.
India rallied in the second innings, making 274 runs. Cheteshwar Pujara led the charge for the hosts as he scored 92, supported by Ajinkya Rahane and Lokesh Rahul, who both scored half centuries in setting Australia a tough, but achievable 188 runs for victory.
The tourists crumbled much like the pitch though as Ravichandran Ashwin ran through them, taking 6 for 41 from 12.4 overs after taking the new ball. Australia were all out for 112 inside four days.
Only Steve Smith, Peter Handscomb, David Warner, and Mitch Marsh made it into double figures.
Batting last in India appears to be kryptonite for both teams.
Third Test news
The big news to report coming into the match is the changes Australia have been forced into making.
Mitch Marsh will be missing from action for up to nine months with a shoulder injury and has returned home.
Marcus Stoinis has been flown to India as cover, although the chance of him playing in this third Test of the series appears minimal, despite the lure of a like-for-like replacement.
More on this later, but the options for Australia will include talented but inconsistent all-rounder Glenn Maxwell and Usman Khawaja, who has had his fair share of problems against spin.
Mitchell Starc is also missing for Australia, and arguably the bigger loss coming into this third Test. He is out for the rest of the series with a right-foot fraction. Pat Cummins has been flown over and is set to play ahead of Jack Bird who has been in India since the start of the series.
Both changes will have repercussions for Australia and the balance of the side and if they don’t come off, things could get very ugly.
Last five meetings
Mar 4-7, 2017: India defeat Australia by 75 runs at M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore
Feb 23-25, 2017: Australia defeat India by 333 runs at Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune
Jan 6-10, 2015: Match drawn at Sydney Cricket Ground
Dec 26-30, 2014: Match drawn at Melbourne Cricket Ground
Dec 17-20, 2014: Australia defeat India by four wickets at the Gabba
Last five series
2014-15: Australia defeat India 2-0 (four-match series in Australia)
2013: India defeat Australia 4-0 (four-match series in India)
2011-12: Australia defeat India 4-0 (four-match series in Australia)
2010: India defeat Australia 2-0 (two-match series in India)
2008: India defeat Australia 2-0 (two-match series in India)
Win the toss and… elect to win?
If you have seen the image of the pitch, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, then let’s bring you in on the situation.
— Adam Collins (@collinsadam) March 14, 2017
Put simply, the pitch is a disaster zone. If the Pune pitch was bad, and Bangalore wasn’t much better, this one could be the worst of the lot.
While looks can be deceiving and the pictures we have seen are from a few days before the match, things aren’t looking promising. There isn’t a blade of grass on the wicket, and according to curator SB Singh there were three pitches prepared for India to pick from.
No bounce will not assist the Australian quicks, nor Nathan Lyon. It should, however, play right to the strengths of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin.
It’s going to be a nightmare to bat on in the fourth innings for either side, so let’s call it now and say whoever wins the toss has increased their chances ten fold of winning the match.
Glenn Maxwell the man to come in for Australia
I’m not sold on Marcus Stoinis. I’m not sold on Glenn Maxwell either. The other option is Usman Khawaja, but he won’t get a run in India based on his struggles against spin.
Maxwell has to be the man. While he is inconsistent and drives everyone mad, he does appear to be turning a corner and could put in a big performance with the bat.
He can play spin, and will be aggressive no matter what. If he can come in down the order and add a quick 50 runs, that’s going to be a crushing blow in a low-scoring game.
It could backfire, but with the addition of his off-spinners, which are unlikely to get a run anyway he offers the most out of all the potential candidates for the no.6 role.
Here we go again – Virat Kohli to score runs
Maybe this will jinx the Indian skipper again? Who knows. I’ve said it ahead of both Tests so far and here we go again. Virat Kohli will score runs in Ranchi.
Coming off a home season where he has scored runs by the truckload, he has had four failures in a row and surely, surely there won’t be anymore from Kohli who has been in the thick of the verbal confrontation so far.
Both captains have been into it, with Smith looking at the dressing room for assistance using the DRS, and sledging from both sides getting beyond what most would consider an acceptable level.
It’s tough to say whether that is affecting Kohli’s game or if the weight of the series is simply messing with his head, leading to poor performances with the bat and over the top sledging, but expect him to make a statement in Ranchi.
India to play with two spinners again, rather than three
Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja did the job beautifully for the hosts in Bangalore, and the chances of India bringing back Jayant Yadav as a third spinner appear slim for the third Test – but it’s the correct decision.
Despite the likelihood of the pitch spinning square, India will stick with the two pace bowlers – Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav – as well as the extra batsman in Karun Nair who scored a triple century on debut late last year against England.
Yadav bowled few overs in the first Test and with the pitch looking like one where every run is crucial, having Ashwin and Jadeja batting at eight and nine could be the difference between winning and losing.
Picking Jayant Yadav would be consigning India to effectively playing with ten men.
Pat Cummins has some big shoes to fill
There is no doubting just how big the loss of Mitchell Starc is for the Australian set-up and how tough the job is going to be for a returning Pat Cummins.
The New South Welshman has battled with injury throughout his career and has finally returned to fitness, being rushed into the squad for the match in India.
Working to his benefit is the fact innings are likely to be short and dominated by spin, so working with Josh Hazlewood, he shouldn’t have to bowl a heap of overs or long spells.
The injury factor is also a reason for Glenn Maxwell to play as it gives Australia another bowling option.
But as for Cummins, it’s likely to be tough work on a pitch unlikely to bounce or provide him any assistance. The pressure is on him to deliver with both bat and ball, replacing Starc who has effectively become an all-rounder.
Key game information
First ball: 3pm (AEDT) – 9:30am (local)
Venue: JSCA International Cricket Stadium
TV: Live, Fox Sports (Aus)
Online: Foxtel Go/Play
Radio: White Line Wireless and ABC Radio
Betting: India $1.57, Australia $4.15, draw $5.45
Overall record: Played 92, Australia 41, India 25, Drawn 25, Tied 1
Last five: Australia 2, India 1, Drawn 2
Likely XI and reserves
1. David Warner
2. Matt Renshaw
3. Shaun Marsh
4. Steve Smith (c)
5. Peter Handscomb
6. Glenn Maxwell
7. Matthew Wade (wk)
8. Steve O’Keefe
9. Pat Cummins
10. Josh Hazlewood
11. Nathan Lyon
Rest of squad: Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Agar, Jackson Bird, Mitchell Swepson, Usman Khawaja
Likely XI and reserves
1. Lokesh Rahul
2. Murali Vijay
3. Cheteshwar Pujara
4. Virat Kohli (c)
5. Ajinkya Rahane
6. Karun Nair
7. Wriddhiman Saha (wk)
8. Ravindra Jadeja
9. Ravichandran Ashwin
10. Umesh Yadav
11. Ishant Sharma
Rest of squad: Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Abhinav Mukund, Karun Nair, Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Hours of play
|Start (AEDT)||Finish (AEDT)||Start (Local)||Finish (Local)||Duration|
|Morning session||3pm||5pm||9am||11:30am||Two hours|
|Lunch break||5pm||5:40pm||11:30am||12:10pm||40 minutes|
|Afternoon session||5:40pm||7:40pm||12:10pm||2:10pm||Two hours|
|Tea break||7:40pm||8pm||2:10pm||2:30pm||20 minutes|
|Evening session||8pm||10pm||2:30pm||4:30pm||Two hours|
Hours of play are subject to change based on over rates, weather and match situation.
As already talked about, the toss is going to have a large influence on the result of the match and could even decide it.
If the pitch plays up to what we have seen though, it may not matter who wins the toss. If it turns square from Day 1 and has no bounce for Hazlewood and Cummins, then India might as well claim victory now.
Australia will put up a fight, but it’s difficult to tip them winning even if they do happen to be in a strong position after a day or two.
India to take the series lead.