India starts favourite against Australia in the second test
Having started the series campaign with a dominating innings victory at Nagpur, India start favourites as they take Australia in the second test at the Arun Jaitley Stadium here from Friday.
The match is going to be a landmark for Cheteshwar Pujara as he will be playing his 100th Test.
India’s big win in the first test was primarily due to its spinners and some gutsy batting by the lower order. Rohit Sharma, saved the top order batting line up with his hundred on a slow turner there, but the others like opener K.L. Rahul, Virat Kohli and Pujara struggled.
Rahul will have to perform in this test otherwise it will be tough to keep in –form, Shubman Gill, out of the playing eleven.
Head coach Rahul Dravid has been candid in his views that it has been the middle-order that has bailed the team out on most occasions. In the first test too it was the Axar Patel and Jadeja duo which out-batted Australia.
Then Kotla pitch is likely to be a bit slower than Nagpur track, and how Rahul, Kohli, Pujara bat on it will be watched with keen interest.
As far as Shreyas Iyer’s inclusion is considered, Dravid has already made it clear saying that if “he (Iyer) is able to take the workload of a five-day Test, he will walk into the side”.
On the other hand, Australia seems to be apprehensive about Indian spinners and the way the visitors collapsed in the first test against Ashwin and company must have rattled them.
It looks like the visitors may include three spinners -left-arm spinner Ashton Agar or Matthew Kuhnemann and the off-spin duo of Nathan Lyon and Todd Murphy to take on Rohit Sharma and his men.
Talking to media persons here Australia captain Pat Cummins admitted that his spin unit is still adjusting “It’s an adjustment. Even in the last game we saw a lot of around the wicket bowling, whereas in Australia it’s mainly over-the-wicket bowling. The close catchers don’t feel like the ball is going to pop up as much when there isn’t much bounce. It is bit of an adjustment.
“Using side-spinners, just changing up your angles a bit more. All those things come into a bit more. I think the bowlers did a really good job, both spinners (in the) last game. It’s a bit of an adjustment but in some ways, it doesn’t get any better.”
He said left-arm spinner Matt Kuhnemann and Agar were an option for the second Test.
“We are open to both (Kuhnemann and Agar) options. Both, we are really confident we will do a fantastic job out there. They both had long sessions the last couple of days and looked awesome. If we wanted a third spinner variety, we’d be comfortable with either of those two.”
Asked if David Warner, who is not in good form, will open in the second test “I’m not a selector. I don’t think they’ve had a meeting but I’m sure Davey (Warner) will be there. You saw this year at the Boxing Day Test when he puts pressure back on the opposition, he’s pretty hard to bowl to. I’m sure that’d be part of his plan,”.
“He has been batting really well here. Even in the lead up, I thought he was fantastic. I know there’s a lot of talk about spin bowling through the middle but with that new ball, it’s sometimes the hardest time to bat as well,” the skipper opined.
He was of the view that his two pacers performed well in the first test “As I said, the wicket looks like it might turn a little bit. I thought last week with two pacers that attack functioned quite well, but I think whether it’s Starcy (Starc), another spinner, Scotty (Scott Boland), variety in the attack does help.”