Time for Aussie batsmen to get going
The weeklong break between Tests for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy comes to an end tomorrow, as India and Australia square off with the series scoreline wonderfully poised at 1-1.
This time round both teams will see a couple of changes. Will Pucovski will be making his debut according to all accounts, and David Warner will be back in the side after his injury. They would be replacing the opening duo of Joe Burns and Matthew Wade but I see the latter being made to slide down to the middle order and Travis Head sitting this Test out.
Tim Paine would be hoping that these changes will also bring a change in the mindset and approach of the batsmen. The team is yet to cross 200 and the Indian bowlers have had the better of them in each of the three completed innings. The lack of intent from Australia’s batsmen has allowed the Indians to bowl at them as planned. I would imagine that the inclusion of Warner at the top of the order would address that to some degree. He has the experience as well as the array of shots to take on this in-form Indian bowling attack in order to wrest some momentum for his side.
Full credit to the Australian bowlers for ensuring that the series scoreline is 1-1. The batting problems that have beset the hosts would have made a slightly stiff fourth innings run chase at Adelaide quite challenging. Cameron Green came along well as a batsman at Melbourne — that was one of the few positives for Australia in that Test — however, he would also be looking at bolstering the bowling in the coming matches. Green has been handy with the ball in Australia and having both parts of his game up and running would help his team’s cause.
For those who believe in statistics, it would seem that Steve Smith is ‘due’. He has had a mini slump in the series so far, but is coming back to the Sydney Cricket Ground where he scored a couple of 62-ball centuries a few weeks ago. Smith has always played well against the Indians and they would be keenly aware that he is too good a player to be off his best for long. Smith’s record being what it is, I do see him making a significant contribution in the second half of the series.
For the Indians, they too have a couple of changes in the offing with Rohit Sharma coming in as Ajinkya Rahane’s deputy, and a bowling change being necessitated by the injury to Umesh Yadav. It would be an interesting call to make between Navdeep Saini and T. Natarajan. The latter would have my vote because, as mentioned earlier in the series, I think he would add variety as a left-arm pacer and would also leave some handy footmarks for Ravichandran Ashwin to exploit.
Natarajan and Saini have both had some time in the middle during the one-dayers and it would be interesting to see who among them will make his debut. As I write this, news of James Pattinson and KL Rahul being injured is filtering in. I do not think either would have made the eleven even if fit, so hopefully their non-availability will not have much of an impact.
⚫ Match starts: 5am (IST) on Thursday, live on Sony Six, Sony Ten 1, Sony Ten 3