IND v AUS, 4th Test Preview: Spirited Australia aim series victory in India after 13 years

IND v AUS, 4th Test Preview: Spirited Australia aim series victory in India after 13 years

Peter Handscomb
Peter Handscomb shakes hands with the Indian skipper Virat Kohli. (Photo Source: BCCI)

Who would have even imagined going into the final Test between India and Australia in Dharamsala that the scoreline line would be 1-1? The home team who had a brilliant home season coming into the series was given a reality check by a spirited Australian team who steamrolled the star-studded hosts by a huge margin of 333 runs in the 1st Test in Pune. It was the much-needed wake-up call for the hosts as they stormed back into the series by winning the 2nd Test in Bengaluru by 75 runs.

After conceding a lead of 87 runs in the 1st innings India made a dramatic comeback riding on exceptional knocks by Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane and set Australia a challenging total to chase in the final innings. Ravichandran Ashwin roared back to form with a five-wicket haul and handed India an exceptional victory.

The Test was also marred by the DRS controversy which hogged the limelight for many days following the match. In a heated press conference, Kohli accused Smith and Australia of cheating without using the word which definitely didn’t go down well with the Australian public and media. Amidst the turmoil, some exceptional brand of cricket was played by both teams in the 3rd Test at Ranchi as the match eventually ended in a draw.

Going into the final Test it will a great opportunity for Australia to win their 1st Test on home soil while India who had a dream run in this long home season coming into the series will look to continue their winning momentum.

Team Combination

India

Team India captain Virat Kohli is doubtful for the final Test after injuring his right shoulder while chasing a delivery near the boundary ropes during the opening day of the 3rd Test. He fell awkwardly on his shoulder and looked in ominous pain. He didn’t field for the rest of the day and the majority of the 2nd day but did come out to bat in the 1st innings. He also took the field when Australia batted in the 2nd innings.

Mumbai and Delhi Daredevils batsman Shreyas Iyer who scored a brilliant double century in the warm-up game against Australia has been called up as his cover. If Kohli misses out tomorrow, Ajinkya Rahane will lead the hosts in his absence. Murali Vijay is also a doubtful starter for tomorrow as the Tamil Nadu lad didn’t practise on Friday.

Kohli, on the other hand, will undergo a fitness test today night or tomorrow morning to determine whether he will be able to play in the 4th Test. If Kohli doesn’t play it is highly unlikely India will go with 5 bowlers and will stick to their combination. In swing friendly condition, India might be tempted go with Bhuvneshwar Kumar in place of Ishant Sharma but with Shami getting fit he might be the ideal replacement.

The team management was doubtful whether Shami will be able to last for 5 days. But according to the latest information, he has been drafted into the squad and will be replacing Ishant Sharma.

Recent form: DWLWW (last five completed matches, most recent first)

Predicted XI- Murali Vijay/Abhinav Mukund, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli ©/Shreyas Iyer, Ajinkya Rahane, Karun Nair, Ravichandran Ashwin, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav

Australia

Australia has already proved that they are no pushovers and will look to come all guns blazing in the final Test. It will be a huge opportunity for Steve Smith & Co to win a Test series in India after 13 years. The visitors won the opening Test riding on an exceptional performance by left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe who bagged mindboggling match figures of 12/70. Despite losing the 2nd Test, they dominated for the majority of the match.

Captain Steve Smith has looked in ominous touch already scoring 2 centuries in the series so far. His 2nd innings century in Pune will remain one of his best knocks till date given how hard it was to play on a rank turner in Pune. Young opener Matt Renshaw has also looked unruffled and has played freely. He has batted exceptionally against the experienced spin bowling duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.

With pace friendly conditions expected in Dharamsala, Steve O’Keefe, Australia’s hero from the opening Test might be asked to sit out in favour of right arm medium pacer Jackson Bird. The form of David Warner will surely be a worry for the visitors as the southpaw has failed to get going in the Test series so far.

Recent form: DLWWW

Predicted XI- David Warner,  Matt Renshaw,  Steven Smith (capt), Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb,  Glenn Maxwell,  Matthew Wade (wk),  Jackson Bird,  Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.

Stats and Trivia

  • Last time India lost in a series decider was in 1987 vs Pakistan in the 5-match series after first 4 Tests ended in a draw.
  • R Ashwin need 1 more wicket to go past Dale Steyn’s record of 78 Test wickets in 2007/08 season
  • Ashwin also has 78 Test wickets in 2016/17 so far.