MS Dhoni and the Indian Test squad will look to pile further misery on the visiting Australians in Mohali, when the third Test between the two countries starts on Thursday. Michael Clarke's men have been comprehensively outplayed over the course of the first two games and face a stiff challenge to save this four-match series.
Where to Watch Live
The third Test between India and Australia, at Mohali, runs from 14 March to 18 March. Live coverage is available on Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 1 HD from 5am GMT. It should be noted live coverage will start only after the first hour's play on each day, as live broadcast of the second Test between New Zealand and England will run first.
The Indians scripted two emphatic wins at Chennai and Hyderabad, winning by eight wickets and an innings and 135 runs respectively, with off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin in superb form. The Chennai-born spinner has 18 wickets at an average of 16.8 per wicket (compared to a career average of 28.93) and commanding batting performances from Dhoni (224 in the first Test), Virat Kohli (107 in the first Test), Murali Vijay (167 in the second Test) and Cheteshwar Pujara (204 in the second Test) have exacerbated the Australians' problems.
And to add to the general disarray in the visitors' camp, the management team and Clarke have suspended four players, including vice captain Shane Watson. Seamers James Pattinson and Mitchell Johnson and batsman Usman Khawaja are the other three players who have been punished for indiscipline in the wake of the defeat in the second Test. Watson has flown home to Australia, ostensibly to be with his wife for the birth of his first child. However, reports suggest he has been recalled by Cricket Australia.
The Australians were tasked with learning to read Ashwin's off-breaks ahead of the Test in Hyderabad, something they failed to do. The tall right-handed bowler has hit back well after below-par performances for much of England's tour of India late last year and has reinforced his position as his country's premier spinner.
In addition, the Indian batsmen have raised their game as well, after the disastrous results against Alastair Cook and his men. Against England, with the exception of Pujara in the first two Tests, none of the home team's batsmen made adequate use of their knowledge of local conditions to post big scores. This only increased the pressure on the bowlers and a measure of patience and application while batting, particularly by Cook, was enough to hand the English a vital edge for the rest of the series.
This time, in Chennai and Hyderabad, the Indian batsmen were better prepared, willing to craft innings and play a more measured Test match. And the results were spectacular. The Indians batted three innings in two Tests and scored above 500 twice. Pujara and Dhoni have one double-century each, while Kohli, Vijay and Sachin Tendulkar have all managed sizeable contributions.
And that is something the Australians have to learn from. The visiting team's batsmen have shown good form with the bat but it has not been as sustained as the Indians' and therein lies the problem.
Clarke's century in the first Test and his 91 in the second were aided by fine efforts from Matthew Wade (62 in the second Test), Moises Henrique (68 and 81 in the first Test) and David Warner (59 in the first Test). But compared to mammoth scores posted by the Indian batsmen, these efforts are insignificant.
In each of the first two Tests, an anchor innings (Tendulkar and Kohli in the first and Vijay and Pujara in the second) have been the key behind strong wins. And that is what Australia are lacking at the moment. They have the anchor in Clarke but he needs his team mates to deliver as well.
Mohali is traditionally a seamer-friendly pitch, which is likely to provide some relief to the Australians. As such, it should provide a slightly different test for the Indian batsmen. Having said that, however, don't expect an ultra-fast and bouncy track. It will likely turn, more so as the game wears on. And the fact the Australians have a horrible record on this ground won't help them either - they've lost both Tests they've played here. The good news is the weather will be cooler than South India.
India: MS Dhoni, Shikar Dhawan, Harbhajan Singh, Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar, Murali Vijay, Ishant Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin
Australia: Michael Clarke, Ed Cowan, Phillip Hughes, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc, David Warner, Matthew Wade, Steve Smith, Nathan Lyon, Moises Henrique, Xavier Doherty
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