India are expected to enhance their aura of invincibility at home with another series win while a down and out Australia will need nothing less than a monumental effort to bounce back in the third Test, beginning here at Indore on Wednesday. (More Cricket News)
India have already secured the Border-Gavaskar trophy and they will now be playing for a record-extending 16th straight series win at home and a guaranteed spot in the World Test Championship final in June.
Leading 2-0 in a four-match series, India are sitting pretty and just need to make one tough decision of choosing between out-of-form K L Rahul and Shubman Gill.
Rahul is no more the vice-captain of the side but the team management has shown tremendous faith in him and he might well get another opportunity to get back among the runs.
The only hundred of the series, which has been dominated by spinners, has come from the bat of Rohit Sharma. If India get to bat on day one, the conditions will be ideal for the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli to pile on the runs.
The trio of Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin and Axar Patel has not just delivered with the ball, it has also scored the bulk of the runs so far in the series. Since they can't be expected to get runs in the lower order regularly, the onus lies on the top-order.
Contrary to Australia's inexplicable sweeping tactics, Indian batters have adopted the conventional approach against the impressive Australian spinners.
Rohit has been brilliant with his feet movement, Kohli too has looked assured in the middle and an unbeaten 31 from Cheteshwar Pujara in his 100th Test must have made him more confident going into the third Test.
The square at the Holkar Stadium houses pitches with both black and red soil. The curators have decided to go with the black soil, which usually doesn’t offer as much turn and bounce compared to red soil tracks.
Their battered and bruised opponents, Australia, have got a lot of time to reflect on their defeats in Nagpur and Delhi. The debacle in Delhi, where they effectively lost the game in session, should hurt more.
In terms of their squad composition, a lot has changed with Pat Cummins back in Australia to be with his ailing mother. Ashton Agar, Josh Hazlewood and David Warner too are back home. Steve Smith will lead the side.
The visitors could not be faulted for the amount of effort they are putting in to stage a comeback in the series.
They seem ready to shun the inexplicable sweeping tactics they employed in Delhi and are expected to take a more conventional approach to counter the rampaging Ashwin and Jadeja.
Such has been their domination that Patel has only got to bowl 26 overs.
How the Australians defend against the spinners will be key to their chances here. Runs are always vital but their batters need to bat long. It has to be a mix of caution and aggression as the over attacking style of play is likely to be counter-productive.
Travis Head is expected to open alongside Usman Khawaja. Khawaja struck a well-made 81 in Delhi and Head briefly put pressure on the spinners with his aggressive play. Trust head to continue in the same fashion while Khawaja will be expected to play the waiting game.
The fulcrum of their batting, Smith and Labuschagne, average less than 30 so far in the series and without their runs, an Australia fightback will be highly unlikely.
All-rounder Cameron Green is fit again alongside Mitchell Starc and both are expected to start on Wednesday. Australia are likely to continue with three specialists spinners in Nathan Lyon, Todd Murphy and Matthew Kuhnemann.
Australia: Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Matt Kuhnemann, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Lance Morris, Todd Murphy, Matthew Renshaw, Steve Smith (captain), Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson.
India: Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul (vc), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KS Bharat, Ishan Kishan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Suryakumar Yadav, Jaydev Unadkat.
Match starts at 9.30am IST.