there was a comment from Daniel Vettori, Australia’s assistant coach, before the final Test that they did not have much to offer the current contingent of spinners, when he was first asked for advice about bowling India’s dustball. Overall, he recalled, when he played in India the pitches started out flat and there was often a battle of attrition.
So, they may have more familiar flashbacks as the Ahmedabad game unfolds on one of the more humdrum surfaces India has built in recent times, though it deserves a caveat: the amount of turns has increased every day and as The tempo of the game can still change in the last two days as the pitch bakes. For now, it has been an uphill task for the bowlers.
In Indore, Steven Smith played with his field almost every delivery at certain stages of the game, but that was because there was a lot happening on the surface. He admitted that at times he was almost chasing the ball but felt that the opportunity could come anywhere. On this ground, he had to be inventive but try to make a breakthrough. There were early signs that he would go through his playbook when he had three leg-side catchers off Rohit Sharma as Mitchell Starc sent down a spell of bumpers.
He later picked a 7-2 leg-side ground against Cheteshwar Pujara. There was a circle of three fielders from midwicket to square leg with Smith himself positioned at leg slip and hoping for a chance to repeat his remarkable catch. This time the shores were much less prevalent. When Cameron Green came on for his first spell of the day, Alex Carey put a lonely figure behind the stumps with a brace of catchers at both short cover and short midwicket instead.
For Australia’s spinners, it was a different challenge in front of them. This time there was going to be no race in India. Rewards were hard earned.
Nathan Lyon had to bear the brunt and when he finally won lbw Shubman Gill It was his 20th wicket of the series, to finish off a fine century, the most successful of his three tours to India. In a series where there has also been a round-the-wicket line most common sightThis was his third skull while coming.
Lyon said after bowling 34 overs a day later, “I think I bowled better today than I bowled at Indore.” “We knew it was going to be a tough day, it’s a very similar wicket to the one we faced in Pakistan 12 months ago, so it’s important for the boys to stick to plans and stop scoring, when you have guys like Gill and Virat Let’s bowl to.” such surfaces [it] Can be challenging.”
Smith’s use of Todd Murphy was initially curious as he was not introduced until the 32nd over. In the rare balance of playing three specialist spinners, not to take them all too personally when they are not in action, but Murphy has been excellent throughout so it felt like a long wait. When he opened his wicket count, it was another fine piece of bowling as he fired straight enough from round the wicket to trap Pujara.
left arm bowler Matthew Kuhnman The lightest of the trio was used but picked up the first wicket when he lured Rohit to drive early and was caught at short cover. He would only bowl eight more overs for the day.
Lyon said, “It’s a big moment for two young spinners and I think they bowled exceptionally well.”
As Lyon said, at times the drama was reminiscent of the Lahore Test against Pakistan last year. On that occasion the home side were replying strongly to Australia’s first innings before Starc and Pat Cummins opened the game with devastating reverse swing. Smith tried to do something similar here as well, but the ball refused to let go. Green found some pace but there was little on offer for Starc when he operated a burst from the round wicket, hiding the ball as he prepared to deliver.
That angle from Starc meant he spent less time trying to get some footmark outside the right-arm offstump for offspinners, but Lyon didn’t believe it would make a huge difference.
“The wicket there is very hard, so the footmark is not much,” he said. “We can see it’s starting to go up and down a bit more, but even talking to Starsey, he’s trying too hard and the ball is just stopping in the wicket.”
Australia still have a massive advantage to work with, but now have just two days to make the most of it if they are to leave with a share of the series that looked highly unlikely a couple of weeks ago.
“Such Test matches are won in the last half-an-hour of the fifth day and it’s the kind of Test matches you want to be a part of,” Lyon said. “Hard work with a potentially great reward at the end of it. They’re challenging, but we’re all up for a challenge.”
If either team finds a way to win the game on the fifth day, there will be no shortage of drama at the end of this series. It’s just going to be a slow burn to get there.