From sure losers to possible winners, Australia under replacement captain Steve Smith has fought back gallantly after winning the third Test at Indore in the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Trophy. India, having triumphed convincingly in the first two Tests at Nagpur and Delhi, leads the four Test series 2-1 with the final Test starting tomorrow (Thursday) at Ahmedabad. This has livened up a dead series.
An estimated 100,000 spectators are expected to turn up at the Narendra Modi Stadium tomorrow on the first day of the INDvAUS 2023 Ahmedabad test. This may break Melbourne Cricket Ground’s record for the largest crowd on one day of a Test match. This record stands at 91,112 and was during the 2013-14 Ashes Test.
Among the spectators at Ahmedabad will be the presence of Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on the opening day. Along with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Albanese will participate in a series of events before the Test, including handing hats to players and getting involved in the opening ceremony.
A number of influential Australian business leaders – including Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce, Fortescue Metals boss Andrew Forrest and Commonwealth Bank chief executive Matt Comyn – are with Mr Albanese on his first trip to India as PM. Mr Albanese is expected to stay at the Ahmedabad colosseum for about an hour before moving on to other commitments in Mumbai and Delhi.
Although India has already won the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Australia will gain some consolation by levelling the series 2-all if they win the 2023 Ahmedabad Test. Also they will retain the lead as number one in World Test Championship.
Below are the statistics of the first three Tests by the two teams in the current series, with Indian players dominating.
- In batting India’s captain Rohit Sharma has scored most runs, 207 and is the only centurion in the series, 120 runs in the first Test at Nagpur.
- India’s late order batsman Axar Patel has the highest batting average, 92.50 followed by Sharma averaging 41.40.
- Four Australian batters have done well on a dizzily turning pitch. They are Marnus Labuschagne (178 runs at 35.60), opener Usman Khawaja (153 at 25.50), Peter Handscomb (128 at 32.00) and Travis Head (113 at 37.67).
- Virat Kohli’s performance with the bat has been disappointing in this series, only 111 runs at a poor average of 22.20 with a highest score of 44.
- Spinners from both sides have been outstanding. India’s spinner Ravindra ‘Jadugar’ Jadeja leads with 21 wickets at a fantastic average of 13.90, followed by Australia’s spinner Nathan Lyon, 19 scalps at an equally marvellous average of 17.95. Lyon’s spell of 8 for 64 in the Indore Test this month has been the best in this series so far.
- India’s veteran off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has struck painful blows to the opposition batters by often opening the bowling and capturing 18 wickets at 15.72. Young bespectacled Aussie spinner Todd Murphy has also impressed taking 11 wickets at 21.82.
- One Indian batsman to face Lyon with confidence in the Indore Test was 35 year-old Cheteshwar Pujara who top-scored with 59 before being caught brilliantly by Steve Smith.
But enough of my praising. Now let me be critical.
In this series so far, each of the first three 5-day Tests have ended in two and half days. Why? Because the pitches were made for spinners by home team India.
I agree that all countries tend to prepare pitches to suit their bowlers. But to me, India has crossed the limit. About time the International Cricket Council supervises pitch preparation in all countries.
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