Six burning questions ahead of the final Australia-India Test



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    The Test series between Australia and India is evenly poised. What twists and turns are in store ahead of the final Test?

    1) Who will have the momentum on Saturday, when the fourth Test starts in Dharamsala?

    Both captains tried to claim it would be their respective sides. Australia clearly finished the stronger team and would have felt more buoyant after day five, but they will be concerned about how India slowly but surely overhauled their first-innings total and took control of the contest on day four.

    2) What would another drawn Test mean?

    The series would finish drawn at 1-1. It would be an unsatisfying result for both teams, but somewhat of a victory for the tourists as they would retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy. The win in Pune was Australia’s first Test victory in India since 2004. Steve Smith’s side are gunning for the nation’s second series win in India since 1969.

    3) What should be expected from the pitch?

    The unexpected, especially given it is hosting its first-ever Test. The surface in Ranchi provided a reminder of why you should never judge a deck on what it looks like. Smith fully expected another early finish, as was the case in Pune and Bangalore, but it held together quite well. Dharamsala is renowned for its pace and carry, but Australia found out how little reputations mean when they played on a spin-friendly pitch at the venue during last year’s World Twenty20.

    4) What is going on with India captain Virat Kohli?

    Kohli is being belted in his personal battle with counterpart Steve Smith. Smith is the leading run-scorer of the series with 371 at 74.2, including two tons. Kohli has 46 runs at 9.2. Kohli has clearly been rattled but Australia will remain wary, knowing the superstar is one of the best batsmen in the world and capable of winning both the Test and series in Dharamsala.

    5) What is the physical state of Pat Cummins and Australia’s other bowlers?

    Sore. Justifiably so. Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon and Steve O’Keefe toiled for a staggering 210 overs in the field during India’s marathon innings. All of them will be carefully managed this week, especially with a short turnaround before the final Test starts on Saturday. It will lead to further discussion and debate about allrounder Glenn Maxwell only bowling four overs in Ranchi.

    6) Will selectors on either side swing the axe?

    It’s hard to imagine the visitors making any changes unless forced to because of injuries. Glenn Maxwell made the most of his chance, making it hard to see how Marcus Stoinis can come into calculations even if the deck suits his medium-pacers more. India may opt to rejig their attack and rush paceman Mohammed Shami back into their XI.

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (6)

    • March 22nd 2017 @ 1:03am
      Arto said | March 22nd 2017 @ 1:03am | ! Report

      This is what makes this final Test so exciting – there are so many sub-plots that may or may not eventuate; do Aus gamble on Cummins (is it such a gamble actually?), What about Lyon’s form? What about Warner’s form? Do Aus go for an extra batsmen? Do any of the other bowlers “need a rest”? What will the pitch be like? How do India believe they’ll bowl Aus out twice now? Was Maxwell’s 1st innings a ‘flash-in-the-pan’?

      The saying goes: don’t change a winning team and Aus might just think their ability to draw the 3rd Test is a moral victory, considering the circumstances surrounding it. So it could be argued to keep the same XI provided no injuries happen between now & the toss. However, the selection discussion needs to also account for whether those same XI manage to last out 5 days of cricket – we just saw that an expected 3-4 day Test actually went the distance after all – so will they all manage to avoid injury during the game?

      Most likely it’s something in the middle, but here are my ‘conservative’ & ‘experimental’ XIs for the 4th Test:

      Conservative XI:
      Warner, Renshaw, Smith, Marsh, Handscombe, Maxwell, Wade, O’Keefe, Cummins, Lyon, Hazelwood

      Experimental XI:
      Marsh, Renshaw, Smith, Khawaja, Handscombe, Maxwell, Stoinis, Wade, O’Keefe, Swepson, Bird

      Whilst I don’t expect many changes as Aus can still win the series – and I don’t think ANYONE outside of the touring party thought that was a likely scenario on this tour (I was going to be happy if we managed to avoid the typical batting collapses we’ve been known for in recent times!), so it wouldn’t surprise me if Aus sticked with what has worked so far… the reasoning behind my ‘Experiemental XI’ is that Warner & Lyon droped on form, Hazelwood & Cummins rested due to fear of injury. With only 3 specialist bowlers, an extra batsman (Khawaja) is brought in to allow us to bat for longer and Stoinis would need to bowl along with using the spin from Maxwell and Smith as variety. It gambles on winning the toss, and relies on the non-strike bowlers drawing mistakes from Ind’s batsmen, but it would be a tremendous reward if it worked out!

      • March 22nd 2017 @ 1:41am
        Craig said | March 22nd 2017 @ 1:41am | ! Report

        Your experimental 11 is close to the worst possible side that could be selected.

        • March 22nd 2017 @ 2:20am
          Arto said | March 22nd 2017 @ 2:20am | ! Report

          Hahahaha! 😀

          How so?
          As I said,i don’t expect there to be many changes (if any at all), but I was trying to encourage discussion about who might be picked given all the sub-plots involved in this great series. You’re free to come back with reasons why you think that ‘Experiemntal XI’ is so bad…

          • March 22nd 2017 @ 2:53am
            Craig said | March 22nd 2017 @ 2:53am | ! Report

            Do I really need to explain why an “attack”of Bird, Swepson and O’Keefe would be disastrous? Oh wait, I forgot Stoinis can bowl his medium pace puss to bolster the attack.

            You think our attack was over-worked in the 3rd test? This attack could bowl for 5 days and we’d only have the Indians 2 or 3 wickets down.

            The conservative 11 is what we’ll go with, except for possibly Bird replacing one of the spinners. Personally, I hope Bird is in for Lyon.

            • March 22nd 2017 @ 8:50pm
              Arto said | March 22nd 2017 @ 8:50pm | ! Report

              Obviously, it’s a much weaker line-up given the alternative I have also proposed. However, the point I was trying to make was that it may be forced upon us if the bowlers are close to breaking point after the last Test – it’s not often Aussie sides have been in the field of 3 days in a Test.

              Personally, I don’t see Bird being much of an impact bowler – more a straight replacement for Hazelwood if he is deemed overworked. Swepson has big wraps on him from Warne and would represent something different for the Indians to face being a wrist-spinner. I know next to nothing about Stoinis as I don’t follow the Bushgrangers and personally, I would have picked Henriques instead of him due to Henriques previous experience in India. O’Keefe has proven on this tour he can bowl effectively – either keeping the scoring down or getting wickets.

              So whilst it’s not a A-grade International attack, I’d argue it could be one that suffocates India’s scoring to the effect we saw in the last Test. With us having 6 batsmen & Wade, it would be a line-up that could force a draw. Maybe I’m being too pessimistic, but given most fans thought we were heading for a 4-0 defeat before we left the country I’d like to think I’m being a bit of realist too…

    • March 23rd 2017 @ 1:33pm
      Tanmoy Kar said | March 23rd 2017 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

      Bird should come in place of Lyon to assist Cummins and Hazelwood. Maxwell can bowl off-spin and similarly Smith can bowl leg-spin if required.

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