Plot watch - Ranchi pitch belies expectations
Expectations: The first two pitches of the series were heavily criticised for being difficult to bat on, and after viewing photos of it, many expected the pitch in Ranchi to be even worse. One Australian newspaper even called the dark, cracked surface a "conspiracy" against Australia.
How it actually played: The pitch belied all reports and was by far the best for batting of the series. A quick outfield also aided the batsmen. At the end of the day, Steven Smith said, "It is a good pitch so we will need all the runs we can get. The bounce was consistent, and it hasn't really spun."
Our ball-by-ball commentary described six balls as coming slowly off the pitch, eight deliveries as keeping low and just four balls as bouncing more than expected. The description "no turn" was used almost as often as "turn".
After Virat Kohli had accused Australia of repeatedly breaking the rules for reviewing decisions in the second Test, a fiery atmosphere was expected in the third match. However, there were no flare-ups through the day. Smith was even seen acknowledging a good delivery from Umesh Yadav, and at the end of the day, several Indian players went up to Smith to congratulate him on his century. Kohli was off the field for a significant amount of time, and without him, there did not seem to be too much chat from the Indian fielders.
There was even a bit of comedy as Wriddhiman Saha tried to prise the ball from Smith's pads after it had lodged behind the knee roll. Saha seemed to think he could claim a catch, but the ball was dead and it had not hit the bat anyway. Smith fell backwards and Saha landed up on top of him, drawing laughter from most of the players.
India had not had a single successful review while bowling in the series but got their first when Shaun Marsh was given out caught at short leg after an edge was detected via technology. India were far more reserved in taking reviews. At least three big lbw appeals, from Ishant Sharma, R Ashwin and Umesh were wisely not followed by reviews.
However, India missed an opportunity to review when Glen Maxwell gloved a ball onto his pads and was caught. The appeal was not big, and no one seemed to think it had kissed the glove till the television replays later showed it had. There was also a review taken when Ishant struck Maxwell on the pad, but Ishant had overstepped, so the review was not taken away from India - it would have stayed with the umpire's not-out decision had it been a legal delivery. The result was that India did not lose a single review in the day.