India v Australia, 3rd Test, Ranchi, 1st day March 16, 2017

Plot watch - Ranchi pitch belies expectations

ESPNcricinfo staff
A daily report on the three biggest talking points of the series: the pitches, the on-field aggression and the reviews

India considered using a review early against Matt Renshaw, but smartly resisted © AFP

Pitch watch

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".

Aggression watch

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.

DRS watch

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.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mohammad on March 17, 2017, 10:11 GMT

    Not sure why people here are complaining about Indian Pace Attack. Indian pace attack has been really good since Zaheer & Nehra came into the team. They won few overseas matches with batsmen like Sachin,Dravid, Ganguly, Laxman. Pace attack is still not bad with Ishant, Umesh, Shami, Bhuvi, Bhumra, Nehra. The struggle outside India is because of lack of World Class Test Batsmen who can play well overseas.

  • Arpit on March 17, 2017, 8:41 GMT

    So finally India made Australia happy by giving them a batting friendly pitch and hence they scored some decent runs on the board. Had they scored in excess of 550+ the game would have been beyond India. But they didn't. If Kohli is fit to bat India will match this score or take a small lead by Day 3 is over. The pitch will crack open towards the end of day 3. Aussies will get bogged down again by India's spin duo giving India 200 or under to chase on Day 5. India to win this one

  • CricMystique on March 17, 2017, 6:53 GMT

    @ MOHAMMAD ZAMIN ON MARCH 16, 2017, 18:29 GMT " "India is the best side to destroy its fast bowlers since they really dont know what fast bowling truely is."...more truer words were never spoken on these blogs.... Am guessing you are from Pak and if so, wish we had some of your pace oriented mentality and psyche....else what you have said above - will ring true 20 years from now as well....the said part is no one in india cares, as we are only obsessed with home victories....we have/breed quicks very rarely and on the rare occasions we have someone quick or in their prime-our setup does its best to douse that fire and that potential, there are heaps of examples - too numerous to state....sadly - no one cares...we win the next spin based home series, our media takes off...everyone is happy...cricinfo please publish

  • laksvi5642713 on March 17, 2017, 6:21 GMT

    @ MOHAMMAD ZAMIN ON MARCH 16, 2017, 18:29 GMT & INSIDEHEDGE.... YEah agree with your start off with we simply donot have the pace based psyche&mentality of pak, because we are so used to be bombarded with useless spin&batting stats as our mentality is 'as long as we win @ home-who cares what happens outside the SC' &so when we win in the SC-our media glorifies this, only for us to loose outside the SC as we need pace bowling to win outside the SC. Coming back to Ishant, Umesh-no doubt they've improved but if we had a focus onpace bowling by appointing a specialist pace bowling coach like donald, akram, cooley, craig mcd, gillespie this improvement wud be umesh we have an out&out quick whose talent has been wasted so far because the BCCI is like the dog which finally caught up with the car it was chasing&does not know what to do with it. unless we have a mental paradigm shift get used to loosing outside SC..with the odd victory here & there, cricinfo plz publish

  • Xiong on March 17, 2017, 1:43 GMT

    @sharrenstone Are you really an Australian cricket fan? Because I feel like 100% of all Australian cricket fans I've ever discussed Maxwell and Tests with is in about the same precarious position I am. We KNOW that he's capable. But after what he did with his previous chances, eg. the reverse sweep second ball for a duck in the UAE when we desperately needed him to dig in, it's kind of hard to go back there. Nobody doubts that he has the physical talents. But does he have the mindset to do it on a big stage? Could he develop a solid test innings in Australia, for example, in front of a big crowd that gets his blood pumping? Or would we just see a charge down the pitch and a switch hit because he wants to entertain? The answers to those questions? Still don't know. This innings has undoubtedly been good, and will get him selected again. But is it only this good because he's desperate to get selected 1 more time right now?

  • b.misl9017082 on March 16, 2017, 23:35 GMT

    sharrenstone on March 16, 2017, 14:21 GMT mate I don't know what part of the world you reside in but I'm from Adelaide, and one of the few who follow the SA Red Backs closely. To suggest Travis Head should be in the side is just mind boggling. The guy has a record slightly better than Mitch Marsh at first class level, he's so inconsistent it isn't funny hence an average in the low 30's. He's go the game but not the temperament, and while his 100's are spectacular, they are like the occasional ones Nic Maddison hits, 150 off 90 balls. Neither of these two have the ability to grind out a tough hundred. There are far better options than Head, and if I was only looking at the Redbacks then Jake Lehman is streets in front of him. The problem is his dad is the coach and it probably isn't the best look. Of all the red backs Lehman is the only one with an average over 40! That is part of the reason why I'm not too excited with Cummins getting 8 for the match against a very average team.

  • Peter on March 16, 2017, 21:47 GMT

    @NSIDEHEDGE. Many of us here are at a loss which paper did that. Actually given the limited amount of cricket coverage here now that the football seasons have started, Any comment would have been noted. So also very interested which paper stated this.

  • Paul on March 16, 2017, 21:15 GMT

    What a pleasant day's cricket. So different from the first two tests. I wonder what was different that might have caused it.

  • Rohit on March 16, 2017, 19:23 GMT

    @insidehedge Seriously man, 77 test caps and doesn't look like taking a wicket since forever. pankaj /Vinay/PK could have been solid players given as much chances. So many careers spoiled , and for what.

  • Ashok on March 16, 2017, 18:52 GMT

    This article does not say much about the pitch. So the assumption is that the pitch was batting friendly & hence the heading. But it does appear that it will start to spin from day 4 onwards. I still expected Ashwin to do better than just one wkt. in a whole day play. He has so many balls to confuse the batsman even if there is not much spin in the wkt. Hopefully, the Indian bowlers keep plugging tight length & hope for batmen to make mistakes & do not feel shy in appealing for the catches of the gloves. Sadly this is the second time they failed to appeal for the catch off the glove & both the times it proved expensive!

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