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regular-article-logo Thursday, 08 June 2023

India goals: Iron out creases for World Test Championship final

Pat Cummins will be out of third Test at Holkar Stadium in Indore beginning on Wednesday

Our Bureau Calcutta Published 01.03.23, 04:55 AM
Shubman Gill, who could open the batting, at nets in Indore on Tuesday.

Shubman Gill, who could open the batting, at nets in Indore on Tuesday. PTI picture

To a fair extent, the interest has faded from the ongoing series with Australia unable to last even four days in the first two games, coupled with some of their key players no longer being a part of the remaining two Tests.

Even their captain Pat Cummins, who had left for Sydney after the New Delhi Test due to serious family illness, will be out of the third Test at the Holkar Stadium in Indore beginning on Wednesday.

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But all these matter little for Team India. Already having taken an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the four-match series and retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Rohit Sharma and his teammates now have their eyes set on clinching the World Test Championship (WTC) final berth.

That will be secured if India win this third Test. Technically though, India can still lose out on the final spot if they don’t win these last two Tests and Sri Lanka manage to beat New Zealand 2-0.

For the Australians, they won’t make the final if they lose the remaining two Tests as well and Sri Lanka win 2-0.

The Indian team is surely in a much better frame of mind with their spinners being all over the Aussies in this series. The visitors looked clueless before Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin with their shot selection being ridiculous on several occasions.

But does India have each and every aspect of their game sorted? That doesn’t quite seem so as batting-wise, there’s certainly some more work to do.

If not for captain Rohit’s century in the first innings in Nagpur and the lower order’s fightback at the Kotla, again in the first innings, the first two Tests could surely have been closer. The team management will have to decide on Rohit’s opening partner — persist with the now ex-vice-captain KL Rahul or bring in the inform Shubman Gill.

Besides, it’s also time for the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli to come up with a meaningful contribution with the bat. There’s also a possibility of India playing an extra batsman in place of pacer Mohammed Siraj. That would make sense in the circumstances.

The conditions at the Holkar Stadium will also determine India’s XI. The pitch there isn’t usually a rank-turner, but considering how the series has panned out so far, spinners are likely to get a fair amount of purchase.

For the Australians, to be led by Steve Smith, it amounts to punching above their weight if they are to win this Test and keep the series relevant till the final game in Ahmedabad.

Australia would only hope their batters step up while pacer Mitchell Starc and all-rounder Cameron Green bring in fresh energy.

Today’s match

■ India vs Australia, 3rd Test Day I, 9.30am, live on Star Sports Network

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