India made a brilliant comeback in the second Test, showing just why they are such an irresistible force at home to level this most brilliant of series with Australia. Onto the third Test of the four we go now, and hopefully Ranchi will throw up another brilliant Test match between the two top ranked sides in the world.
Virat Kohli and co. have the advantage going into the third Test, after producing a stirring come-from-behind victory in Bengaluru.
With the batsmen failing for a third straight innings in this series, when they were shut out for 189 thanks to a Nathan Lyon eight-for on the first day, things looked bleak for India. Indeed, only a really brave man would have betted against Australia not taking a 2-0 lead.
However, the bowlers brought India back by keeping the first innings lead below 100 and the batsmen stepped up in the second innings, piling the final innings pressure on the Aussies. The pressure told and India picked up a brilliant win, which not only brought the confidence flowing back to the home team, but, more importantly, kept this series interesting.
What's also been interesting in this series is the pitch. Thanks to the extra help from the surface so far, this series has been a lot more evenly-contested than previously expected.
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What India will want from the third Test match in Ranchi is a more flat batting wicket – one where they can put up the big first innings runs, before letting their spinners do what they do best on days three, four and five.
That strategy is also fraught with risk, because Australia have a dangerous batting lineup – David Warner could prove to be lethal on a flat wicket – but it does give India a better chance at winning.
That formula worked against England, and as long as Kohli has the faith in his bowlers, that they can get him the 20 wickets, particularly the first ten fairly quickly, India should go for a pitch that offers a lot more for the batsmen.
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India will also know that they need to bat a lot better. The first three innings of this series were disasters and, while a crucial partnership from Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane pulled them out of trouble in the second innings, there needs to be a lot more contribution from the top four.
Virat Kohli is due a big knock, and India will hope it comes in Ranchi, while KL Rahul, as good as he has been, could do with converting one of those half-centuries into really big hundreds. Making the most of it when you are in good form – as Rahul is in – is important, and India will expect a big score from their opener.
If the batting clicks, it puts less pressure on the bowlers, and the more relaxed they are, the more likely they are likely to hit the right lines and lengths, which will, in turn give India a better chance at picking up a win.
India vs Australia Third Test match schedule
Date: Thursday, March 16 to Monday, March 20.
Time: 9.30am IST, 3pm AEDT, 8am GST, 4am GMT.
Venue: JSCA Stadium in Ranchi.
India: Star Sports 1, Star Sports 3, Star Sports HD1, Star Sports HD3.
Australia: Fox Sports 3 and 5.
Middle East: OSN Sports Cricket HD.
New Zealand: Sky Sport 3.
UK: Sky Sports 2.
USA and Canada: Willow TV.
South Africa: SuperSport Five.