3rd Test Cricket Preview – India v Australia
Thursday March 16, 3pm AEDT – JSCA International Stadium Complex, Ranchi
We can expect a heated affair in the 3rd Test at Ranchi if the 2nd Test at Bengaluru is anything to go by. Indian captain Virat Kohli was at his niggling best, while Australian skipper Steve Smith found himself in hot water for looking towards to the dressing room for DRS help. Australia was dealt a massive blow in the lead-up to the 3rd Test, with strike bowler Mitchell Starc ruled out for the remainder of the Test series with a stress fracture in his right foot. Meanwhile, Mitchell Marsh is also out for the series due to a shoulder injury, leaving more headaches for the Australian selectors about filling the crucial No.6 position. Marcus Stoinis has joined the squad, while Glenn Maxwell and Usman Khawaja could also come into contention. Pat Cummins or Jackson Bird will most likely take Starc’s spot in the XI. It was a case of the one that got away for Australia in the 2nd Test and it’s important they put it behind them quickly otherwise India will cruise to a 3-1 series win. Australia dismissed India for 189 in their 1st innings in the 2nd Test, with Nathan Lyon recording career best figures of 8/50. Australia looked to be in a strong position, after making 276 in their 1st innings, but couldn’t capitalise on their advantage, crumbling for 112 in their second innings and falling short by 75 runs. Ravi Ashwin was the hero for India, picking up 6/41 to take his wicket tally for the series to 15. The JSCA International Stadium in Ranchi will play host to its first Test and if early pitch reports and photos are accurate, the Test will be over in 3 days. It’s no surprise that it will be a low slow turner and the spinners will have most impact again like they have throughout the series. Steve O’Keefe and Ravi Ashwin have 15 wickets for the series, with Nathan Lyon (13) and Ravindra Jadeja (12) close behind. One player under pressure will be Virat Kohli. He has made just 40 runs at an average of 10 for the series and needs to start contributing. Kohli made 139* here in a ODI win over Sri Lanka back ion 2014 and will be hoping to transfer that form to the five-day game. Either way, India has all the momentum and the loss of Starc is a massive blow to Australia’s chances. The Wolf can see India cruising to a 3-1 series win from this point on, starting with a comfortable Test win in Ranchi.
India 1st Innings Top Batsman
Rahul is the top runscorer in the series with 275 runs at an average of 53.75. Only two other batsmen (Smith and Renshaw) have averaged more than 40 for the series. Rahul made scores of 90 and 51 in the 2nd Test to go with his 64 in the 1st Test.
Australia 1st Innings Top Batsman
Smith is the top Australian runscorer for the series with 172 runs at an average of 43. Smith averages 78.71 against India and has made 5 centuries from 16 innings against them.
India 1st Innings Top Bowler
Ashwin is the joint leading wicket-taker for the series with 15 wickets at 20.46. Ashwin bowled India to victory in the 2nd Test, taking 6/41 and will be a constant force here on a raging turner.
Australia 1st Innings Top Bowler
Lyon is coming off career best figures of 8/50 in the 2nd Test and should enjoy the spin-friendly conditions in Ranchi if somehow it has uneven bounce. He’ll have added responsibility now that Starc has been ruled out and will need to carry the bowling attack.