India and Australia will renew hostilities in Ranchi in the third of the four-match series this Thursday.
Ranchi plays host to the third Test between India and Australia with the series level at 1-1 following the hosts incredible come-from-behind win in Bengaluru.
It’ll be interesting to see what type of wicket we get at Ranchi after the Bengaluru and Pune wickets were rated ‘below average’ and ‘poor’ respectively.
India vs Australia | Thu 16 March – Mon 20 March | JSCA International Stadium, Ranchi
To Win Match
India 6/10 | Draw 33/10 | Australia 35/10
There’s been a lot of noise made around the state of the pitches on this tour so far. The wicket in Pune was rated ‘Poor’ by match referee, Chris Broad. He earlier rated the wicket in the first Test as ‘below average.’
The Indians of course, won’t mind too much. They’ve shown incredible consistency over the last few years when it comes to playing on wickets that turn square from day one. Their cause is helped significantly by the spin due of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin, both of whom churn out match-winning performances with ruthless consistency.
It was Ashwin who stole the show in Bengaluru last time out, as he ran through the Australian batting order in the second innings, finishing with figures of 12.4-4-41-6. You can’t discount Jadeja’s contribution either.
The Gujarati all-rounder frustrated the Aussie batsmen in that second innings, conceding just three runs from his eight overs as Ashwin ripped through the Australian middle and lower order to wrap up the second Test and draw the series level.
Looking ahead, the third Test should be a fiercely competitive affair with both teams desperate to win. Steve Smith’s ‘brain fade’ as he so eloquently called it, Virat Kohli’s reaction to said 'fade' as well as the Australian and Indian media have left players simmering over the last few days. Expect an all-out assault from the word go.
The Australians would have been pretty disappointed not to leave Pune with at least a draw. They were perfectly placed to do just that after taking an 87-run lead following their first innings. A strong second innings showing from India and a woeful display from Australia on a horrid surface in Pune saw the Aussies capitulate to a 75 run defeat.
They’ll need to prepare themselves for more of the same come Thursday with the deck at the JSCA International Stadium expected to turn square from day one. Whether or not the Ranchi pitch will break up as much the Pune one as time wears on remains to be seen, although it has been receiving decent amounts of water throughout the week.
One thing is for sure, they’ll definitely not want to be batting last. Pitch deterioration in India in recent years has been under the spotlight with the Bengaluru deck becoming pretty much unplayable on the final day last week.
The strategy will be to get in, put on a decent score while the wicket is still in relatively good shape and hope to skittle the Indians in the latter stages of the match. For that to happen, Nathan Lyon and Steve O’Keefe will need to continue the good work they’ve been putting in while Australia’s top order will need to come to the party.
Steve Smith has been good so far while Matt Renshaw has also shown good mettle in the face of some magnificent bowling. David Warner has been a bit disappointing by his ridiculously high standards. He’s due a good performance and will look to cash in while the wicket is still playable.
Personnel-wise, I don’t think it really matters who Darren Lehmann picks so long as O’Keefe, Lyon, Smith and Renshaw are available. Mitchell Starc (stress fracture) will be a miss although the Australians should cope without him for the remainder of the series.
Verdict: India 6/10
I still can’t believe that you’re able to get India at 6/10. They’re far better suited to these sort of wickets with Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will be the destroyers-in-chief for the hosts with KL Rahul’s and Virat Kohli’s masterful ability to play spin on the driest of surfaces more than enough to see the hosts through.
Value Bet: A hundred to be scored in the first innings: No 11/10
If reports coming out of Ranchi are to be believed, then we’re set for yet another rank-turner that should rip about from the first over of the Test. Variable bounce and square turn will make batting exceedingly difficult, even for the home batsmen. No 100 to be scored in the first innings looks a solid bet.