We are down to the final Test of the India v Australia series which is nicely poised at 1-1. Tarot reader, Shruti Chopra discusses the series, the off-field issues and the 4th Test with cricket analyst and blogger Suneer Chowdhary. Have a listen to them or read excerpts of their conversation below.
It’s not been a very long gap between the 3rd and 4th Test..yet so much seems to keep happening.. Surely we can’t let whatever’s been happening off the field slide aside without a word on it…Suneer, before we move on to cricket, where are we headed to with all that’s happening away from the cricket?
I will start with the good news first, Shruti – in a couple of weeks from now, the IPL begins and almost everything will be forgotten and forgiven and everyone will move on and get on with their business of playing cricket and earning some money. But before that, for the next one week or so, all I can hope for is for things to not implode badly and there are signs things could go horribly wrong if a check isn’t maintained on emotions – the ICC had that chance after the Bengaluru Test but they let things fester and here’s where they are…
…that was a surprise to me, and was more of a surprise…of all the things that have happened, you wouldn’t expect a cricketer to be compared with Donald Trump?
That has to be one of the most bizarre things I have heard in some time. But I also understand where that particular writer was coming from – the best way to get famous these days or get those extra retweets or followers is to make bizarre headlines like those – we have seen some ex-cricketers do that in the past as well while releasing their autobiographies and this is probably one of those rare occasions when someone in the media has done the same. I read that article in which that writer compared Kohli with Trump and frankly that supposed relation is so convoluted that I wonder how hard it might have been for him to come up with it. Kohli injured his shoulder, Glenn Maxwell mocked him, Star Sports showed Steven Smith allegedly mocking him and Kohli gave it back by mocking a couple of the Aussie batsmen when they walked back. Apparently, the host broadcaster allegedly goofed up with Smith mocking Kohli bit and got it and apologised to the Aussies – and after that, I have no clue how that writer proceeded to the Trump comparison. Strange but that’s what you usually expect from the Australian media when teams tour there – this is probably one of those rare occasions when it’s happened away from home, so well done!
You know what I really found funny and ironic… I read how in a radio interview, Australia chief James Sutherland said that he’s not sure if Kohli knows how to spell the word “sorry”… but yet, he “hopes the boys from both teams get together and have a bit of a laugh” – if that’s what he had to say, then why have a dig at Kohli in the first place – maybe he was just creating foundations of friendship for the Aussie team to build on?! ..ok now.. Can we move on to the cricket then?
…yep, speak of adding some fuel to the fire or try and get some brownie points in the lead-up to the crucial contract signing between Cricket Australia and the cricketers…but ye, be good to move on to the cricket…
The other major topic going into any Test this season has been the pitch in play. We heard stories from some in the Australian media on how the Ranchi game might not even last two days but even discounting for their obvious ants in the pants, the surfaces have been a talking point and especially in this particular game it assumes even more importance – won’t be your typical bunsen burner of a wicket but talks of it being a green and bouncy pitch sounds surprising?
Again, it’s hard to rely on information from the so-called experts sitting a few 100 yards away from the pitch, so I will wait for the game to begin to understand how it goes. The thing is, the weather in Dharmashala will remain cool and that won’t allow the breaking up of the pitch too much, which might mean the spinners don’t come too much into it on the first couple of days. From an Aussie perspective, Mitchell Johnson said how they might want to consider playing Jackson Bird but it remains to be seen who goes out in that case – Nathan Lyon is a first-choice spinner but has his finger injury healed enough? And what about Steve O’Keefe’s fitness after having bowled 77 overs in the previous game. The other question is Pat Cummins’ fitness after having made a comeback and bowled 39 overs – a lot of those questions will come into the equation before the final decision is made.
And India will want to bring Mohammad Shami back if that is the case with the pitch – how will the Indian XI look in your books?
Mohammad Shami looks to be physically fit – he has been bowling in the Indian nets, he bowled well in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and the management would know how he’s going as a result. The couple of questions for them are, is he fit enough to last the Test match and secondly, if he does come in, who will it be for? Shami’s brilliance as an Indian fast bowler cannot be over-stated – on pitches that are tailor-made to help the Indian spinners, he has picked up 18 wickets this season at an average of 27, and his career average of 32 is the fifth-best for an Indian fast bowler who has played at least 10 Tests…
…so who could he replace?
there are two viable options – India brings in a third seamer for a batsman or they replace Ishant Sharma with Shami. There’s another factor, the presence of Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the squad and in conditions that assist conventional swing, he could prove a handful as well, as we saw was the case in the Kolkata Test against New Zealand where he bagged a five-fer. But then who do you replace if you want to play both of them? India might have a tough time selecting their 11 as well…
If the momentum was with India after the Bengaluru win, do you think Australia hold all the aces now given their gritty, fighting draw on a last day surface at Ranchi?
Well, if we have learnt anything from this series so far it’s that momentum has counted for very little given how things have gone between Tests and even within a Test. Australia had won a supposedly important toss at Ranchi, got to 331 for four and then fell away to 451. They had India at 328 for six and looked good to take the lead before allowing them to get away to 600 and then lost two wickets on day four before that famous Marsh-Handscomb partnership. Now, how do you decide who has the momentum…it’s all going to be about who plays better over those next few days of the Test.
Which brings me to a question you don’t like answering usually, especially given the context of these views of team momentum but what’s your prediction for this game?
Well, more of the same off the field, spicy press conferences, click-baiting links, Twitter outrage and a media reaction that’s disproportionate to what’s actually happening – and what’s actually happening is a cricket match, just a game in the end.
Suneer.. are you trying to wriggle your way out of this one?! We all wanna know what your call is!
Well that’s your area of expertise, which is why people listen in – so what’s your prediction, Shruti?
I expect India’s openers to do well, but it’s the middle order that will need the lower order to do some rescuing. This match will come down to a crucial second innings from Australia which could see them struggle. Again, Suneer, this is a close one to call, but I’ll go with the team that should display more consistency so it’s tarot advantage: India but not without their struggles!