It’s time for the 2nd Test between India & Australia – will India level up or will Australia stay in the lead? Tarot Reader Shruti Chopra is in conversation with cricket blogger and analyst Suneer Chowdhary. Read excerpts of their conversation or have a listen to their podcast below..
So Suneer, fair to say this will be one of the biggest Test matches of the season for India? An unexpected loss and at the same time a defeat that will sting India quite hard – a 333-run loss and one in which they seemed to have batted, bowled and fielded quite poorly.
…was a rout in more ways than one, wasn’t it? What makes it worse is that India were caught in their own web, falling to the Aussie spinners on a surface that turned square from very early in the game. Also interesting to see that the pitch was reported by the match referee as poor and it still went against the hosts, which is a rarity in itself. Coming back to what you said, India bowled reasonably in the first innings but it all went downhill after that…Mitchell Starc’s final blast with the bat played its part but as I had said even in our post-match Talking Point episode, I don’t think the surface was as bad as India made it out when they batted in their first innings…
…so what went wrong for them and how do they resurrect that going into this second Test in Bengaluru?
I suppose, India were shocked by the pitch more than they thought they would be because of their lack of preparation for a pitch of that kind…remember India have been playing all their home Tests this season on flat surfaces and for them to suddenly encounter a surface like this would have been akin to a deer in front of headlines – caught unaware, but unlike the situation that deer faces, those headlights were of their own car. How do they change things around…well, I think now that the initial surprise has gone past, I would like to think they will bat a lot better against the wreckers-in-chief, Steve O’Keefe and Nathan Lyon, more attempts to play the line of the ball and allow it to spin past like how Steven Smith and co. did against Ravindra Jadeja.
You always love a good discussion about Test match pitches, Suneer, don’t you? The ICC has come down heavily on the Pune pitch with match referee Chris Broad terming it as poor…How do you rate the Pune pitch…
I am a huge fan of bowling-friendly surfaces, Shruti, I believe they produce much better-contested Tests and if countries all over the world started producing bowler-friendly pitches, we will see three-day Tests to begin with but the batsmen will steadily adapt and things will get back to normal even on those surfaces. So, give me a Pune pitch over a 600 v 500 pitch where it takes until the final day for things to start moving.
and how do you expect this Bengaluru surface to behave?
As far as the Bengaluru pitch is concerned, there are contradictory reports coming in from everywhere – there has been a spotting of grass, while others have pointed to the barren areas in some parts – so we would only be able to take stock of the situation once the Test begins, but I doubt India will want a repeat of the Pune surface. They prefer slow turners, and the curators will not want to be sanctioned yet again either, so there’s a good chance we will see a somewhat flatter pitch for the batsmen. Mind you, Australia wouldn’t mind that either…they have some good batsmen who can make life miserable for the bowlers on easy surfaces – so all in all, an interesting lead-up to the game.
Australia will be quite chuffed with their showing in the first game…do you see them go any differently, either in their approach or their selection?
They would have come into the series with all that preparation done in Dubai but in the end, it was going to be the result in the opening game and the rest of the series that matters and had they lost the opener, it might have been a serious dent in their morale…after all they haven’t won anything in Asia in recent times. Now, with all that confidence behind them, they will know they can more than compete in these conditions and might well have rattled the home side – another good day in the office and India will have their backs to the wall and they will know that. As far as their approach or selection is concerned, I doubt they will want to do much to change a winning feeling or a combination; if the Pune pitch didn’t necessitate them to play Glenn Maxwell as their third spinner, doubt they will want to change things around with Mitchell Marsh now and Shaun Marsh will be given another chance after having got the nod over Usman Khawaja earlier.
And India, any changes to their line-up?
Had even tweeted this earlier, for a captain who makes changes to the side when the side is on a roll, winning, it would be interesting if he didn’t when the team has lost a match. Jayant Yadav’s place in the side might be in some jeopardy after his poor showing last game but if this is a much better batting surface then I think India might still resist the temptation to play Karun Nair in place of Jayant – they will need a fifth bowler to be able to rotate things around. At best, I can see India bring in another bowler for Jayant and that’s if his confidence has taken a serious pounding…with Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the mix in place of Ishant if the surface demands so.
What’s your prediction for this 2nd Test?
India start favourites but if Australia can win the toss and put some pressure on the hosts by getting through to a solid score on day one, who knows they could end up making it very tough for India.