India levelled the series with Australia last week and now head into the 3rd Test in Ranchi from Thursday 16 March as overwhelming favourites. Shridar Bhamidi picks out the best bets.
It’s surprising how fortunes change so quickly in Test cricket. Australia were all over India in Pune and started so well in Bangalore - so much so that the hosts looked out of reckoning.
But one big partnership with the bat and a defining performance with the ball meant that both sides are tied 1-1 ahead of the third Test at Ranchi from Thursday.
Variable bounce and sharp turn is supposed to be how the Indian pitches behave. That is how the pitches were so far in the series but surprisingly the Indian batsmen looked tentative. KL Rahul looked a class apart at the top but opening is still a worry for the hosts.
Cheteswar Pujara played a typically gutsy innings at Bangalore and should once again be crucial for their fortunes. But the bigger question would revolve around the form of captain Virat Kohli who was kept quiet so far. Will he unleash the ‘Virat of 2016’ on the Aussies now?
Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja looked menacing as expected but it is the performance of the pacers that is heartening for the Indians. Both Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma looked far more threatening than their counterparts on sluggish pitches –with the new as well as the old ball.
Credit to this Aussie team which has been completely written off prior to the start of the series. Steve Smith side has shown guts and gumption to stay alive in the series although they have lost their early momentum.
Matt Renshaw has been a pleasant surprise with the lanky opener using his tall reach and every ounce of patience to keep the Indian bowlers at bay. But explosive opener David Warner’s tentativeness against Ashwin is hurting them big time.
Smith would love more runs from his middle order with Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb guilty of not scoring big. Mitchell Starc’s absence is a huge blow while the cloud of suspicion around Nathan Lyon’s participation isn’t making it any comfortable for the visitors.
Murali Vijay should be fit for the hosts and should be a direct swap for Abhinav Mukund. Another slow turning pitch could be in the offing which may tempt the hosts to have a look at the chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav.
Mitchell Marsh’s injury will mean a chance for Glenn Maxwell at number six while Starc’s place could go to Pat Cummins. Smith would also think about Usman Khawaja and Jackson Bird respectively and don’t be surprised if one of them actually sneak through.
It’s the inaugural match at Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s home town Ranchi. With the pitch expected to be at its sluggish best, the hosts are frontrunners to win the match. At odds of $1.57 (bet365
), India are favorites while Australia at odds of $5.75 (bet365
) are left far behind.
Jadeja’s accuracy makes him a threat on all Indian pitches and at odds of $3.40 (bet365
) he looks an interesting punt to be India’s best bowler. Rahul’s form makes him favorite to notch up another fifty in the first innings here – at odds of $2.50 (Ladbrokes
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