India and Australia have matched each other punch to punch in this series so far. There has never been a scenario where one team has dominated large parts of a Test match apart from Pune, where India capitulated under three days. The fourth and the final Test in the series at Dharamsala appears to be going down the wire. Day 1 belonged to India after they bowled out Australia for 300 despite losing the toss. But the visitors bounced back on Day 2 to take six Indian wickets and allow them to score just 248 runs.
Heading into Day 3, the Test match is tantalisingly poised and the next session is going to decide which team holds the edge going into the final and decisive innings of the series. India are still 52 runs behind Australia, and failure to reduce that deficit below 25, could see them hand the advantage to the Australians. India will have to bat last on this wicket that is expected to see a lot more variable bounce come the final two days and chasing anything over 200 runs will be very challenging.
Considering the form that Steve Smith is in, the hosts would ideally like to have a lead of at least 50 runs to put the visitors under pressure. India are still a hundred runs away from reaching that mark and with just four wickets in hand, they will have to bat extremely well to get there. However, in Ravindra Jadeja and Wriddhiman Saha, India have two players who are very much capable with the blade.
India's famed batting line-up hasn't been at their best in this series apart from one innings in Ranchi. Their rather timid approach on Day 2 of this Dharamsala Test has been one of the reasons why the Australian attack has managed to exert pressure on the Indians. Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara dropped the anchor a bit and invited pressure onto themselves before tea. They got into their shell, with an aim to protect their wickets and eventually perished as the likes of Nathan Lyon and Steve O'Keefe thrived on the extra bounce that the pitch offered.
India's rather passive approach gave Australia a window back into the game, and the visitors are not a team to miss out on such opportunities.
The match, however, still remains in the balance and whichever team takes the lead on Day 3 will hold the aces for the rest of the match. The bowlers might be getting that extra bounce from the wicket, but it is still is a very good wicket to bat on. So if Jadeja and Saha can play their natural game, they would not just eat into the Australian lead really quickly, but also disturb the rhythm with which Lyon bowled on Day 2.
Neither player has a natural instinct to block, and with just four wickets remaining, it will be crucial that both the Indian batsmen go after the Australians fearlessly. India lacked a bit of attacking intent on Day 2 and missed the chance to really put Australia on the back foot in this Test match, but a bit more aggression on Day 3 could see the home side wrest back control of the contest in Dharamsala.
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Updated Date: Mar 26, 2017 22:22:23 IST