With the Test series tied at 1-1 apiece, the third Test match between India cricket team and Australia cricket team -- which begins in Ranchi on Thursday -- is a must-win for both the teams. After the pitches causing problems in the first two matches, there is a lot of talk about the strip to be used in Ranchi, which is hosting its first Test. From pitch to on-field aggression and toss, there are a lot of things we can expect from Ranchi as Virat Kohli and Steve Smith-led teams hit the field.
Here is our list of five things to look out for in Ranchi:
The pitch issue
Probably the biggest mystery going into this Test. It looks mottled. The areas near the popping crease look worryingly bare.
The curator, too, hasn’t been most confident about his baby amid talk that the Ranchi pitch might play to its reputation -- a slow, low turner that could last five days.
“I have not seen a cricketer who can predict the outcome after seeing a pitch,” India cricket team captain Virat Kohli said during the press conference. In short, very few know exactly how it will behave.
Third spinner for India?
Going by Virat Kohli’s captaincy, change is the only constant in his life, especially when it comes to announcing the playing Xi for a Test. He is also a big fan of the ‘six batsmen-five bowlers’ combination despite winning with four bowlers in Bangalore.
The Ranchi pitch could prompt a rethink though. If India want a third spinner, Kohli has to choose between off-spinner Jayant Yadav and chinaman Kuldeep Yadav. Given Jayant’s no show in Pune , Kohli might just be inclined towards Kuldeep.
Another crucial toss
In Pune, Australia won the toss, batted first and won by a landslide margin. In Bangalore, India won the toss and won by 75 runs.
Given the state of pitches offered so far, batting first should be key again. “I guess the pitch will hold together for the first day and then crumble,” said Steve Smith in his pitch assessment on Wednesday. If his prediction comes true, winning the toss will again become crucial in this Test.
Much has been said and written about the way both teams have interpreted the DRS rules and implemented them on field. Australia captain Steve Smith was heavily criticised for his ‘brain fade’ but let’s not forget how miserable India looked with some of their ridiculous reviews.
With the Ranchi pitch going to be slow and low, there can be a deluge of appeals. The India team has to find out a way to communicate better and take the right call at the right time.
Needed: Specialist fielders
Abhinav Mukund isn’t having the best of time with the bat. Neither is he comfortable at short-leg. But he isn’t the only one to be dropping catches at close-in positions.
Having already made India pay through their nose in Pune, Steve Smith was close to repeating his effort in Bangalore before Umesh Yadav struck him low. At 1-1, India can’t afford to drop any more catches. From here on, India need to convert even the half-chances if they want to win the series.