The India vs Australia series has been a riveting one and it’s not just because of the cricket but on issues off the field. The Indian captain Virat Kohli went as far as to allege that the Australians were systematically breaking the rules regarding the DRS while the Australian captain was accused (falsely) of mocking his counterpart’s injury. And amidst all of this, we have had three cracking Test matches and certainly the most competition India has faced at home in many years.
Unlike the pitches which have been served up earlier in this series, the pitch for the drawn but absorbing third match was a batting paradise. It’s placid nature went against what the Australian media expected and Steve Smith had expected, as Ranchi was easily the best batting track of the series.
As it can been the batting averages improved and the bowlers were more or less marginalised in Ranchi. The batsman’s SR suggests that they had to take their time to adjust to the pitch before runs would come easily and it was a pattern common among all the big run scorers in the game.
But despite all that there has to be a mention on how Steve Smith batted. Steve Smith’s focus before and during the series has been on how to negate the main threats in the Indian bowling attack which were Ravichandaran Ashwin & Ravinder Jadeja. It’s something he has managed to do successfully in the series and continued the good work here.
After going through the control stats provided by Cricinfo it can be seen that Steve Smith’s ability to remain in control is the reason why he has managed to score runs against India, though it has come at the cost of slower scoring. But that’s not an issue as such since Smith makes up for this lost ground by scoring quickly against the pacers. This can be seen in the fact that despite facing more balls from the spinners, Smith has a higher boundary count against seamers. The high control which Steve Smith had in his innings also signifies that how easy he found batting on this pitch, and he just made it easier for himself by keeping it simple.
Glenn Maxwell in his comeback to the test side, batted above his state captain Matthew Wade. It was a significant promotion in light of his comments earlier in the season on how it hurt him to bat below the wicket keeper in the Sheffield Shield. He had a point to prove in his comeback Test and he did just that.
He walked out and took his time to settle down and build a partnership with Steve Smith. This meant that Maxwell had to curb his natural instinct to score freely, but once he was in he made sure he capitalised on that start. Maxwell scored 38 runs in his first 86 balls at a strike rate of 44.1 runs per 100 balls, but his next 66 runs came in 99 balls at a strike rate of 66 runs per 100 balls.
Jadeja was the standout bowler for India in this game and his numbers are outstanding given the match average. Not only was he miserly in giving away runs but his ability to pick wickets was only bettered by Pat Cummins. As can be seen in the table below, Jadeja would have taken 495 balls fewer to dismiss the opposition and would have conceded 304 runs fewer in the process. This is massive given how flat a pitch it was and testament to the fact that Jadeja doesn’t always need a wearing surface to assist him.
The table above also show that Pat Cummins was another bowler who stood out. Cummins who was also making his comeback, bowled quick but what would impress Australia is how he was able to unsettle the batsman easily. While his economy rate was comparatively poor, his ability to pick wickets is what stood out.
With the pitch still looking like a good batting track it was no surprise that India amassed so many runs but it was credit to Chetashwar Pujara who played a marathon innings.
Steve Smith’s control stats were only bettered by Pujara who decided to take the defensive route and his innings came at a stage when India were losing wickets consistently. He decided to take time and get India the lead instead of risking the game. It was due to Pujara’s batting which had able support in by Wriddhiman Saha which allowed India to get away with a lead which could have helped them win the game.