IND vs AUS: On the surface, story gets same spin
With World Test Championship final berth at stake, hosts seem keen to make most of the conditions at Nagpur; Australia, too, may opt for spin-heavy line-up
Published: 08th February 2023 12:22 AM | Last Updated: 08th February 2023 12:22 AM | A+A A-
NAGPUR: Even as both India and Australia on Tuesday admitted it’s difficult to ascertain the exact nature of the strip at the VCA Stadium, Jamtha in Nagpur, indications are that both teams might field spin-heavy attacks for the first Test starting Thursday. India vice-captain KL Rahul even went on to say that there’s a temptation to play three spinners in the first of the four-match Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
"Yes, we did see it (the pitch), but it’s still too early to really know what the pitch is going to do. We need to come here on the day of the match to know how it’s really going to play," Rahul told reporters after the training session at the venue. "We can only look at it and assume it’s going to play a certain way, but you never know with pitches. Yes, there is the temptation to play three spinners because we’re playing in India. We’ll take that call on the day of the game or the day before the game," added the right-hand batter.
Rahul’s counterpart from the visiting side, Steve Smith, also echoed the sentiment. Given the nature of the track, Australia also look set to stack their team with spinners. "It’s pretty dry," Smith said when enquired about the surface. "Particularly, one end that I think will take a bit of spin, particularly the left-arm spinner spinning it back into our left-handers. There’s a section there that’s quite dry. Other than that, I can’t really get a good gauge on it."
Adding further, he said, "I don’t think there will be a heap of bounce in the wicket. I think for the seamers, it will be quite skiddy and maybe a bit of up-and-down movement as the game goes on. The cracks felt quite loose. We’ll wait and see when we get out there."
The Aussie batter also spoke on the prospect of fielding two additional spinners with Nathan Lyon but lamented the unavailability of Cameron Green might render them with fewer options. "I think if Green was fit it would definitely be more of an option. Without him, maybe. I’m not entirely sure. I think we’ve got a strategy meeting this afternoon where we’ll have a talk about what we think but ultimately it’s down to the selectors to pick the team they think is best for the surface."
Meanwhile, Rahul accepted it will be tough to choose their playing XI with skipper Rohit Sharma back in the team after missing the two-Test series in Bangladesh. "I don’t know if it has happened before but, yes, this time it is going to be tough. Tough decision to select an eleven. All the 15 guys in the side are top quality, and that’s why they’re here. Anyone of them on any given day can be a match-winner...The playing XI, we always try and make a decision based on what’s best for the team and for that particular Test match. We have done that over the last two years," he said.
The India opener also said that the left-hand heavy Australian line-up could be an advantage for the hosts. The Australian team has left-hand batters in the form of David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Travis Head, Alex Carey and Matt Renshaw. “I think it will help our bowlers a little bit. If there are two left-handers together, and left-handers are coming in to bat back-to-back, that will only mean that the bowlers get time to settle into a certain line and length. That also is a very unique thing. I don’t think any other team has that many left-handers...”
However, he didn’t tell much about India’s preferred choice as far as three slots - wicketkeeper, third spinner and No 5 - are concerned. When asked if Shubman Gill will bat in the middle-order, he said: "We still haven’t decided on the final XI. It’s going to be a tough decision to make. There are guys who have performed exceedingly well and there are a few spots open so there are a few discussions going on and the players are being spoken to."