India vs Australia 2nd Test: Ashwin magic, something about the pitch, Rahane and pressure

Deepak Vikraman
Virat Kohli, India, Australia, second Test, Ind vs Aus

India go into the second Test match in Bengaluru, knowing only one result will do – a victory, not just to level the series, but also to make a statement to Australia, who are flying high after their demolition job in Pune.

Catches the key for India in second Test

There are plenty of aspects that India need to improve upon if they are to come roaring back in this series and here is a look at some of the things to look forward to in this second Test.

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Powers of bouncebackability:

The true sign of a great team is when they bounce back from a heavy defeat. India showed signs of those powers in Sri Lanka a year-and-a-half back, but this second Test, and the rest of the series, will be the biggest test yet, in more ways than one.

Australia are clearly not the pushovers many predicted they would be and with the likes of Steven Smith, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and two high-on-confidence spinners in their lineup, India will need to show they have the mental strength and tactical acumen to find a way back in this series.

Ajinkya Rahane, India, Australia, Peter Handscomb, second Test

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Ajinkya Rahane:

India seem to be quite happy to apply the horses for courses policy when it comes to the bowling department, but for some reason that does not seem to apply to the batsmen.

Rahane is clearly a better bet in overseas conditions, while he has struggled considerably in India. Yes, there are a few high scores in there, but for the most part, his numbers have been quite poor – one half-century in his last ten innings at home – and he averages below 40 when the wickets end up being slow, with a bit of turn in there.

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The brutal, and probably right, decision would have been to drop Rahane and give Karun Nair a chance to show that he is not just about the triple hundred and that he can be a consistent batting force. However, unsurprisingly, India will stick with Rahane, with Anil Kumble saying he will not be dropped.

Rahane might just go on to score a hundred in the Test in Bengaluru, especially if he gets an opportunity to bat in the first couple of days, but he needs to back that up with more in the remaining matches of the series as well.

Steve OKeefe, Australia, India, second Test, first Test, Shaun Marsh

Will Steve O'Keefe be deadly in Bengaluru as well?

O'Keefe had a dream time of it in Pune, picking up 12 wickets in the match and consigning India to an embarrassing defeat. While he is a solid, steady spin bowler, O'Keefe is not the kind of bowler, who strikes fear into the opposition batsmen.

India played for the spin too many times against the left-armer and got caught; on a pitch that is not expected to turn as much and with enough time to prepare, don't expect the home team's batsmen to make those same mistakes again.

So, how well will O'Keefe adjust to that and will he be even half as effective?

Pitch, pitch, pitch:

It was all about the pitch in Pune, with India's obvious tactics to start with a turner failing to give the desired effect. The Bengaluru wicket is expected to be a better batting surface, but will India be able to take the 20 wickets needed to win the Test match?

R Ashwin, India, Australia, second Test, Ind vs Aus Test series

Spinners:

That is where the spinners come in. As bad as the India batsmen were in the first Test – and they were beyond poor – India's spinners did not have the greatest of games either. India rely on R Ashwin so much these days – understandable, considering he is without a doubt the best spinner in the world – that when the off-spinner has an off day, the home side sometimes struggle to find a Plan B.

Ravindra Jadeja and Jayant Yadav, who really needs to bowl a whole lot better and show he can be more potent, are really good foils, but Ashwin is the main man and he needs to show the Aussie batsmen why he is such a feared force in home conditions.

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