What’s the story?
India’s Test wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha, whose marathon partnership with double-centurion Cheteshwar Pujara has put India firmly on the front foot in the third Test against Australia at Ranchi, believes the bowlers can finish off the job and help the home side take a 2-1 lead in the four-match Test series.
The 32-year-old is confident that the spin-duo fo Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja can exploit the abrasive surface to skittle out the Australian batsmen on the final day here on Monday.
“I believe every bowler will be effective. The spinners are getting the ball to turn massively at times while a few are keeping straight. Jadeja’s deliveries to dismiss Warner and Lyon were different in the sense that one spinned off the rough while the other deceived the batsman near to the stumps.
“The pacers have also been bowling well whencalled upon. So I do fancy India’s chances,” Saha said.
On yet another day where tempers flared between the two sides with no love lost between them, it was Virat Kohli's side who bossed the day with Pujara and Saha’s 199-run partnership for the seventh wicket all but taking the match out of Australia’s clutches.
The masterclass 202 by Pujara and Saha’s 117 helped India surpass Australia’s first innings total of 451, before Pujara’s Saurashtra teammate Jadeja scored a quick-fire half-century took India’s total to 603.
Jadeja got into the act with the ball as well later on as Kohli’s ploy to open the bowling with the top-ranked duo of Jadeja and Ashwin paid off with the former accounting for the dangerous David Warner and night-watchman Nathan Lyon within eight overs of the Australian second innings.
With the pitch expected to assist the spinners and the visitors trailing by 129 runs, Saha is confident of an Indian victory on Day 5.
The heart of the matter
Speaking at the press conference at the end of Day 4, Saha praised Pujara for his record-breaking innings, as well as the support he received from the team in notching up his third Test ton, before expressing his thoughts on the final day’s play.
With the ball turning viciously off the rough patches and the Indian spinners in fine form, Saha believes that with a little support from the fast bowlers, India could well be on the way to taking a lead for the first time in the series following the unexpected loss at Pune in the first Test.
While Australia had the early laugh with skipper Steven Smith continuing his blistering form against India, a spirited fightback by the home side means the visitors will have their work cut out against the spinners on the final day on Monday.
Smith will once again have to carry the bulk of the burden while Renshaw and Maxwell will also have to pitch in with fine knocks of their own to prevent what will undoubtedly be a huge victory for India with all the bad blood that has been boiling over between the two sides.
It is hard to contradict Saha’s claims considering how the Indian side have been performing during this long Test season at home. Jadeja and Ashwin have been complimenting each other well throughout with the latter outdoing his partner-in-crime during this series against Australia.
The late dismissals on Day 4 have put India in an undeniable position of strength and with the Indian cricket fans waiting eagerly in anticipation to see how Kohli and his boys gets back at Maxwell when he comes out to bat, we could be in store for yet another feisty day on the field which will in all probability end in the home side’s favour.