India vs Australia, 3rd Test Match, Ranchi Preview: Virat Kohli and Steven Smith aim to move past 'brain fade' incident before historic Test

Indian players will try to leave behind the 'brain fade' incident and focus on the deciding historic Test to be played at MS Dhoni's hometown Ranchi

The Border-Gavaskar Trophy is nicely poised between both the teams prior to the historic Test at Ranchi. Virat Kohli-led Indian side will go up against Steven Smith & Co. The first ever Test at JSCA International Cricket Stadium, Ranchi would be the talking point for the next few days. There has been a wide range of mind games and allegations exchanged between both the teams, former players, respective cricket boards and media as well. The Ranchi Test has got the ample amount of build-up they needed before its first ever Test.

There has been a lot of buzz going on prior to the third Test and has attracted a lot of controversy after Steven Smith and Peter Handscomb ‘brain fade’ incident. Virat Kohli’s allegations in the post-match press conference fuelled up the entire DRS controversy—also came to be known as ‘Dressing Room Review System’. Board of Cricket Control of India (BCCI) and Cricket Australia (CA) went up against each other only to be intervened by International Cricket Council (ICC) who doused the flames by taking no action against anyone from both the sides.

The controversy also attracted former players from both the sides and others who picked sides for one team or another. However, the Australian media took it to the next level by raising new allegations on Virat Kohli and India’s head coach Anil Kumble for throwing the bottle over support staff and storming in match referee Chris Broad’s room.

All the controversies aside, the third Test will be on the radar of every cricket fan or enthusiast in the world. The series had made enough headlines already and it’s time they move over controversies and focus on the game. Here are a few talking points that will concern the masses:

Ranchi pitch:
After bowler-friendly pitches at Pune and Bengaluru where Test match did not see the light of Day 5, Ranchi, too is not considered to be a batting paradise. There will be a lot of pressure on the pitch curator before the pitch for the historic Test is selected as match-referee Broad has rated the pitches of first two Tests as poor. Controversies took over when MS Dhoni and after that Virat Kohli came inspecting the pitch before the play.

However, the curator SB Singh denied their influence in selecting the pitch altogether, falsifying reports creating a buzz before the historic Test.

Starc-less Australia look for impact player
The Australian team is in a big fix after they lost their star player Mitchell Starc due to injury. Starc had an impact on the game both with the bat and the ball. His absence will be felt by the Australians as they lost a strike bowler and a fiery batsman who could score runs at brisk rate down the order. His possible replacement is the fast bowler Pat Cummins who flew to India soon after Starc got ruled out of the tournament. However, including Cummins will be a bit unfair for Jackson Bird who was already in the squad for the Test series.

Steven Smith’s dilemma over Mitchell Marsh’s spot
Mitchell Marsh’s inability to perform paved the way for three players in the team—Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Agar and Glenn Maxwell. Stoinis is the perfect replacement keeping in mind the all-rounder Marsh who can bowl fast and bat in the middle order. Stoinis has done well in domestic circuit as well as in ODI cricket for Australia. He also has the experience to play in India during his IPL stint with Kings XI Punjab.

However, keeping in mind the Ranchi pitch and how the surfaces have behaved in India so far, Agar would be on selector’s mind for being the third spinner in the side, who could also contribute well with the bat—which, by the way, is the need of the hour.

The next possible pick for the Australians is Maxwell. He has expressed his desire to be Nathan Lyon’s sidekick over and over again. In the batting department, his quickfire innings might set the tone of the Test in one session like Starc did for Australia in the first Test rescuing his team from a lowly score to a fighting total.

Murali Vijay’s return to the side
Vijay is expected to return to the side after the shoulder injury that he suffered in the Pune Test. His return to the side is quite evident as comeback-man Abhinav Mukund did not live up to the expectations and had a rather less-than-ordinary performance in Bengaluru Test. He has been in good form barring the first Test. Vijay had a good season playing against New Zealand and England, if he gets chosen in the side, this will be his 50th Test.

Virat Kohli’s form
Virat Kohli has not had a run deficit with bat in his Test career. Kohli’s judgement of error has taken a hit in the past few Tests. He has been criticised for his approach lately against the Australian bowlers. He will be in the spotlight in the Ranchi Test as well as the fans will be cheering for him again as soon as he steps foot on the ground.

Will India, Australia douse the flames or add spark to it?
India’s head coach Kumble has raised the green flag for his team to express themselves and be aggressive. Virat Kohli, too, in a pre-match press conference revealed that he has no regrets and has decided to move on but we all know that he would be as passionate with his response as he was during the second Test or the one before that. On the other hand, it seems Steven Smith or Peter Handscomb would refrain from using ‘Dressing Room Review System’.

No.1 Test bowler’s impact
If India is to win the third Test, their star spin bowlers Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, who jointly top the ICC bowler rankings, will have to perform. The duo had a massive impact in the second Test getting the better off Australian batsmen in both the innings. At first, it was Jadeja followed by Ashwin sealing the deal. Spin bowling will be India’s strength all along the Ranchi Test, there is no doubting that.

Our readers can watch the digital coverage of the third Test at Ranchi 9 IST onwards.

India: Lokesh Rahul, Abhinav Mukund, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli(c), Ajinkya Rahane, Karun Nair, Ravichandran Ashwin, Wriddhiman Saha(wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Murali Vijay, Jayant Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav

Australia: David Warner, Matt Renshaw, Steven Smith(c), Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade(wk), Pat Cummins, Steve O’Keefe, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Glenn Maxwell, Jackson Bird, Mitchell Swepson, Ashton Agar