Australia ended Day 2 of Pune Test holding a firm grip on the match. The visitors were nearing a lead of 300 courtesy Captain Smith who dug in deep amid Ashwin casting the web around the Aussies. Left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe wrecked the Indian batting line-up by picking up career-best figures of 6/35.
The Aussie seam duo of Starc and Hazlewood triggered off India’s batting collapse by bowling immaculate lines in the morning session. The Aussies were helped by a rather dismal performance by the Indian fielders who dropped sitters to allow them to stretch the lead to 298 at the stumps.
Cricket is a funny game and miracles have been pulled off in the past. So here is what Kohli and his men need to do to pull off a spectacular win -
# Steven Smith needs to be dismissed early
Virat Kohli would like to see the dismissal of his Australian counterpart Steven Smith as soon as possible on Day 3 so as to get back into the match. Indian bowlers would have to build a plan around dismissing the Australian captain early so as to make inroads into a relatively inexperienced middle order.
# Indian bowlers need to dislodge the Australian tail
If the Australian captain falls early, the Indian bowlers will have to go for the kill and not let Mitchell Starc and tail flourish as they did in the first innings. Indian bowlers would have to put their variations into full effect and not bowl lose deliveries to the lower order, for them to slog.
# Fielders need to be vigilant
The Indian fielders after a rather poor fielding display on Day 2 will have to step up their athleticism and grab every opportunity to dismiss the visitors. Half chances will have to be converted to compliment and lift the morale of the bowling unit.
# Batting has to fire as a collective unit
The Batting unit shall have to fire collectively to fend off a potent Australian seam attack upfront and the ever deteriorating Pune pitch to pull off a sensational win in the current context of the match. Indian batsmen should blend aggression with caution by displaying mental fortitude and technical acumen so as to avoid a middle order collapse.
# Batsmen have to mix aggression with caution
Given Australia’s commanding position at the end of Day 2, the hosts shall be given a daunting target in excess of 400 runs and if India has a win in sight, their batsmen need to play with an aggressive mindset to score off every given opportunity and keep the scoreboard ticking.
# Overdependency on Virat Kohli needs to be shed off
There seems to be over dependence on Virat Kohli’s batting to seize the crucial moments while winning a test match. The seasoned batsmen in Murali Vijay, Cheteshwara Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane with loads of experience shall have to assume greater responsibility in stitching the innings together in bowling friendly tracks as presented in Pune.