About the Match
The first day of the test match between India and Australia lived up to all expectations and provided an enthralling day of test cricket. There was plenty to suggest that the series will not be as one sided as people were thinking. Here is what we think will happen on Day 2.
Day 2 Preview
Let us get the first thing out of the way. The pitch at Pune is a raging turner and unlike any that we witnessed for the England series. It was a huge relief for the Aussies when they won the toss and promptly elected to bat first.
The spin that the spinners got from the second over raised fears of complete carnage among the Australians but that is what did not happen. David Warner, Mathew Renshaw and then Mitchell Starc at the end showed excellent application, technique and some lusty hitting to ensure the Indian had to work very hard for their wickets.
Even the other batsmen that did not score too many runs played out a fair few deliveries and never really let the Indian spinner run away with things.
The score of 256 for 9 at the end of Day 1 was reached in no small part due to the last wicket partnership of 51, something the Aussies would be desperately hoping continues on day 2.
We think the Indian spinners will come back rejuvenated on day 2 and should be able to break the partnership relatively quickly. Kohli will likely start the day with one spinner and one fast bowler, possible Umesh Yadav who was easily the pick of the bowlers for India.
Back the Aussies to add less than 20 runs on day 2.
They say that the true nature of a pitch is not really known until both the teams have had a bat on it but India will find run scoring difficult here as well. They have not really played too well on slow wickets in the past and quality spinners can get the better of their batsmen.
In Nathan Lyon and O’Keefe, the Aussies have two good spinners to try and exploit the conditions. We think the bounce in the wicket, as well as his quicker pace of bowling, will make Lyon the greater threat and likely to pick 3 or more wickets in the match.
We are sticking to Mitchell Starc, however, as the bowler likely to take the most number of wickets for Australia. His past record in Asian conditions, his experience in bowling in the IPl and his batting exploits will fill him with confidence.
India has a long lower order and Starc could be the perfect bowler to exploit that with his Yorkers. We would recommend backing him big to pick the most number of wickets.
What about the Indian batsmen, though. This is a pitch that will suit Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara with their ability temper their scoring rate but we are not too positive about the rest of the lineup. Lokesh Rahul is a very hit and miss player and Josh Hazelwood could exploit his weakness outside off-stump with ease.
Ajinkya Rahane is probably the one Indian batsman that seems least suited for home conditions. He is a quality act but tends to get out softly on slow pitches far too often to be trustworthy.
That leaves Virat Kohli.
There are two aspects to look at here. One is the fact that Kohli is in fantastic touch, however, a look back at his record against South Africa when they played on similar pitches showed that he had trouble scoring.
The second is his motivation. Kohli wants to beat the Aussies more than anything and even though he may have tempered a bit on the outside, he still has the ability to push himself beyond imagination through sheer will alone.
The odds on Kohli scoring runs are always going to be short and so we think that it would be worth a gamble to back him getting out cheaply on such a surface.
India should be able to get a small lead in the first innings and we expect the pitch to deteriorate rapidly until it becomes near unplayable in day 3. In a test match that threatens to move fast, tomorrow could be the moving day instead of day 3.
We still back India to win though especially if their batsmen are able to outperform the Aussies by any significant margin.