The third Test of the four-match series between India and Australia has cropped up much debate over the pitch of the Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) Stadium in Ranchi which will host it.
After a “poor” wicket in Pune for the first Test and “below average” Bangalore pitch in the second, the Ranchi pitch has been under scanner as it gets ready to make its Test debut on Thursday.
In terms of India’s cricket history, it will be the 20th city to host a Test match and the JSCA stadium will be the 26th venue to do so.
The fact that the result of the match will decide the winner of the series — which is currently finely balanced at 1-1 — hasn’t helped matters.This has brought on extremely detailed inspections of the Ranchi pitch from both Indian and Australian media.
MAGIC 800 MARK
Whatever the result of the match, Australia will at least take away one major achievement from Ranchi.
Australia will become only the second team in history to play 800 Test matches when they face India on Thursday.
Having played their first test match against England in Melbourne on March 15, 1877, it has taken the Baggy Greens 140 years and one day to reach the milestone almost a decade and a half after England.
The English side became the first nation to play 800 Tests when they faced Australia in Brisbane in November 2002. Australia’s current record stands at 377 wins, 214 lost, 2 tied and 206 drawn from 799 Test matches played.
SMITH HUNTS 5000
Steven Smith will want to put the DRS fiasco and subsequent verbal tiffs with Virat Kohli behind him when he steps onto the pitch.
The Aussie skipper is 76 runs short of completing 5,000 runs in Test cricket, having accumulated 4,924 in his 96 innings from 52 matches thus far. He has an average of 59.23, and boasts 18 centuries and 20 half-centuries from his efforts.
Should he manage to reach the 5000-run landmark in the first innings, he will be the joint seventh-fastest batter to reach the figure. It will also make him the third quickest Australian batter to do so after the legendary Don Bradman (56 innings) and Matthew Hayden (95 innings).
He can also cement a position as third fastest of all-time in terms of matches, behind Don Bradman (36 Test) and Indian great Sunil Gavaskar (52 Tests).
50 UP FOR VIJAY
Having missed the Bangalore match because of a shoulder injury, Murali Vijay will want to be back to action immediately as he gets set for his 50th Test.
The 32-year-old opener has managed nine centuries and 14 half-centuries in his 49 Tests so far. Of these, four centuries and fie half-centuries have come against Australia against whom he also made his Test debut in Nagpur in November 2008.
Vijay’s first Test century also came against Australia, a 139-run knock in the second of a two-Test series in October 2010.
Overall, he has an average of 39.84 from 3307 runs, but has a better record against the Aussies. He averages 55.90 against Australia in 21 innings played against them; his second best average against any team after Bangladesh (73.75).
(With inputs from S Pervez Qaiser)