Australia’s latest triumph came on the back of a superb bowling performance from veteran off-spinner Nathan Lyon, who collected 11 wickets for the match
Australia’s convincing nine-wicket triumph over India in the third Test has helped them book a place at this year’s ICC World Test Championship Final, but just who joins them in the decider remains wide open.
Australia have been the dominant side during this World Test Championship period (2021-23), with Pat Cummins’ side having won 11 of the 18 Tests they have featured in. Their latest triumph came on the back of a superb bowling performance from veteran off-spinner Nathan Lyon, who collected 11 wickets for the match to more than make up for the unexpected absence of Cummins due to family reasons.
While batting collapses for Australia throughout the series might have made for a nervy run chase, especially after Usman Khawaja fell for a duck in the second innings, Travis Head (49*) and Marnus Labuschagne (28*) steered them to the stirring win.
That victory has helped Australia amass an impressive 68.52 of their possible WTC points and that means they will finish the current period in first place on the World Test Championship standings regardless of the result in the final Test of their ongoing series against India.
While India holds on to second place on the standings with 60.29 of their possible WTC points and are in the box seat to qualify for the one-off Test at The Oval in June, they can still be overtaken by Sri Lanka should results go against Rohit Sharma’s side over the coming weeks.
A victory in the fourth Test against Australia in Ahmedabad will ensure India’s spot in the WTC Final, but another victory for the visitors or a draw will leave the door open for Sri Lanka to overtake Rohit’s side and snatch the last spot.
Sri Lanka have two Tests to play away from home against New Zealand this month and know they have to complete a 2-0 series sweep over the Kiwis to have any chance of snatching a spot in the WTC Final.
Remaining ICC World Test Championship Fixtures
South Africa v West Indies (Second Test) – Johannesburg, South Africa, 8-12 March
New Zealand v Sri Lanka (First Test) – Christchurch, New Zealand, 9-13 March
India v Australia (Fourth Test) – Ahmedabad, India, 9-13 March
New Zealand v Sri Lanka (Second Test) – Wellington, New Zealand, 17-21 March.
We are good enough to get results: Smith
Following win over India in the 3rd Test, Steve Smith, who stood in as the captain in the absence of the injured Pat Cummins, said that the players have enough faith in their methods and they are good enough to bounce back after suffering two Test match defeats against hosts.
“The break came a good time for us,” Smith said in the post-match press conference on Friday.
“We were obviously disappointed with the way things ended particularly in the last game and failing to take our opportunities, and knowing after that second test we can’t actually win the series. That’s always been on the bucket list for a few of us. For the guys to be able to regroup, trust themselves with what they’re trying to do and just try to do it for longer. It’s something we’ve spoken about and the way we did it this week was really pleasing. It’s about taking the result out of play, have faith in our methods for long enough, we’re good enough players to get the results we’re after more often than not,” he added.
While batting collapses for Australia throughout the series might have made for a nervy run chase, especially after Usman Khawaja fell for a duck in the second innings, Travis Head (49*) and Marnus Labuschagne (28*) steered them to a stirring win.
“The message at the start of the day was to take the scoreboard out of play and pretend like it’s day one and we know if we are batting at lunch then getting 75 runs was more likely. The guys did that nicely and when Travis got his opportunity after getting himself in and they changed the ball, it looked like it wasn’t responding quite the same, and Heady put the foot down and played to his areas and there you go, we got over the line,” Smith explained.
“They are pretty hard to come by, for us to get on top in this game, particularly after losing the toss and fielding first as well, it shows the talent in this group and the belief we’ve got in ourselves. We screwed up I suppose in Delhi is one way to put it. We had an opportunity there and let that slip, but we had a good break and a good preparation coming here and it was just about getting our mental states right, we’ve done a lot of work it was just about trusting ourselves, trusting our methods,” said Smith.
“Playing the game for longer periods of time and having faith that we’ll succeed and taking the result out of play, we know with this group we have got a lot of quality players and if we are trusting ourselves and playing to our methods for a long period of time then we are going to have more success than we’re going to fail,” he added.
Australia’s latest triumph came on the back of a superb bowling performance from veteran off-spinner Nathan Lyon, who collected 11 wickets for the match to more than make up for the unexpected absence of Cummins due to family reasons.
We played poorly: Rohit Sharma
India skipper Rohit Sharma on Friday gave an honest assessment of what went wrong with the team in the third Test of the ongoing series for the Border-Gavaskar trophy.
India struggled in both innings as Matthew Kuhnemann ran the show for the Aussies in the first innings with his maiden 5-wicket haul. Veteran spinner Nathan Lyon ensured Australia’s dominance in the second innings, as he almost dismantled the entire Indian batting line-up, picking up 8 wickets. Speaking in the post-match conference Rohit opened up on what went wrong for hosts in the third Test.
“If you look at all the dismissals, we played poorly. Of the ten wickets, maybe (in) one or two (dismissals), the pitch did help the bowler a little bit. But other than that, I think it was the skill of the bowler to fox the batsman that stood out. We played some poor shots as well. We didn’t apply enough pressure on their batters. If you look at the way Australia played, they scored 197 (in their first innings). Had their last 6 wickets not collapsed for a few runs, they could have even reached 250-275. And, on a pitch like that, 275 was a damn good score. So, lack of concentration and application is what I would attribute our loss to. You got to apply yourself and bat as long as possible, taking all your chances in the middle and not letting the bowler ball six balls on one spot. Even if a bowler tries to zero in at the same spot ball after ball, as a bowler, you got to try and do something to put him off his line and length and that is something we didn’t do in this game. In both innings, we allowed them to bowl at one spot. This is where we made a mistake in this Test. We will correct it come the Ahmedabad Test.”
The entire Indian batting line-up collapsed in a dramatic fashion in the first innings, to finish at 109. At that point, many questions were raised regarding the pitch and India’s choice to play on such conditions. Former Australia batter Matthew Hayden criticised the pitch on air.
While commentating on the opening day of the third Test, he said, “There’s no way, spinners should come to bowl in the sixth over. This is the reason I don’t like these kinds of surfaces.”
On Day-2, the former southpaw continued in a similar vein, saying, “It’s an absolute desert. It is so dry.”
ICC rates Indore pitch as ‘poor’
International Cricket Council (ICC) on Friday rated the pitch for the third Test between India and Australia at the Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore as “poor” under its Pitch and Outfield Monitoring Process.
“ICC Match Referee Chris Broad submitted his report to the ICC expressing the concerns of the match officials and after consulting with captains of both teams. Following the assessment, the venue has received three demerit points,” ICC said in an official statement. Spinners from both teams got a lot of help from the surface that was conducive to spin right from the start on day one, which saw 14 wickets fall. Out of the 31 wickets that fell during the whole match, 26 were scalped by the spinners while only four wickets went to pacers. A batsman was run-out.
“The report has been forwarded to the BCCI, who now have 14 days if they wish to appeal against the sanction,” the statement said.
“The pitch, which was very dry, did not provide a balance between bat and ball, favouring spinners from the start. The fifth ball of the match broke through the pitch surface and continued to occasionally break the surface providing little or no seam movement and there was excessive and uneven bounce throughout the match,” the statement quoted Broad as saying.
According to the ICC Pitch and Outfield Monitoring Process, a venue gets suspended from hosting any international cricket for a period of 12 months if it accumulates five or more demerit points over a five-year rolling period.
The final Test of the series in Ahmedabad has a lot of significance for India even though they are ahead in the series.