The pitch has been quite slow, and it has been good to bat on,” R Ashwin said on the final evening. “In fact, the balls that we saw misbehave yesterday, the ones that went up and down, has also kind of come down because of the slow nature of the pitch.
I also think the roller is playing a role. And because the game started off with the pitch not seeing a lot of sun, the wicket is getting better to bat as the sun is belting down on it. As a team behind in the game, like we are, we are hopeful we can put a good performance in the first session tomorrow.”
However, Ashwin was not bullish about India’s prospects. In public utterances, this team has spoken about not thinking of draws but starting such final days with only winning the Test on their minds. Adelaide 2014-15 and The Oval 2018 are examples of that, but Ashwin said that the team will look to bat according to the situation on Monday, depending on the kind of bowling they are faced with.
“In a Test match you don’t look at the overall score on the final morning and say we must go for a win,” Ashwin said. “It just doesn’t happen quite so much like it happens in white-ball cricket. There are passages of play in the red-ball game that are much more different and you are playing on a day-five pitch.
And also sometimes when you play to the merit of the ball, you stay in, sometimes you put yourself in a situation in the last session where you can take an initiative, but you don’t go into the morning saying chalo hum teen sau bana denge [let’s go, score 300].
“This is not how you play the game. Last time when we spoke about it in Adelaide, we got off to a good start and the game paced itself that way and we did believe we can get it because the score was in our range. Tomorrow as well we believe we can do it. That belief is very important when you step on to the park.”
Cheteshwar Pujara might have been criticised for his slow batting in the first innings by greats such as Ricky Ponting and Allan Border, but to Ashwin there couldn’t be two better batsmen than Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane for the job at hand tomorrow.
“It is very very important that we play a good first session tomorrow,” Ashwin said. “A very, very ideal and good first session would be to not lose a wicket. These two gentlemen out in the middle have proven through their career how good they are playing this format of the game and playing many good knocks for us. Ajinkya has got a hundred at MCG and Puji has got a fifty in the first innings. We are all very hopeful that they will put in a good performance.”
India can pull dramatic victory but needs big knocks from main stars.
Australia on better side & can make 2-1 lead.
India pacer Mohammed Siraj was called a “Brown Dog” and “Big Monkey” in a series of racist slurs hurled by a group of Australian spectators, who were ejected from the Sydney Cricket Ground during the third Test on Sunday, a BCCI official has alleged. Siraj and his senior teammate Jasprit Bumrah were also subjected to racist slurs on Saturday, something that the Indian team management officially reported to ICC Match Referee David Boon. “Siraj was referred to as ‘Brown Dog’ and ‘Big Monkey’ both of which are racist slurs. The matter was immediately brought to the notice of on-field umpires. They were constantly abusing Bumrah too,” a BCCI source told PTI on conditions of anonymity. On Sunday, during the 86th over of the Australian second innings, Siraj was seen walking from his position in the deep and talking to the square leg umpire before the straight umpire and other senior players joined the discussion.