Cricket world stunned by eye-opening detail in pitch for third Test in India

Steve Smith and his men could have an important toss to win come Wednesday.

Marnus Labuschagne, pictured here looking at the Indore pitch for the third cricket Test.
Marnus Labuschagne (pictured left) and the Australian cricket team were able to look at the Indore pitch, with dry patches of red clay at both ends. (images: Getty Images/@rawatrahul9)

The cricket world has reacted to the first images of the pitch for the third Test in Indore, with many claiming Australia could find success on a more bounce-friendly wicket on the first two days. Australia are 2-0 down the Border-Gavaskar series against India having been dismantled in Nagpur and Delhi following two batting collapses against spin.

Ravi Ashwin and Ravi Jadeja have done the damage in both matches. Adding to Australia's problems is captain Pat Cummins, opener David Warner and bowler Josh Hazlewood all returning to Australia.

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Steve Smith will captain Australia in the third Test after Cummins returned home to be by his mother's side who is unwell. While the tour hasn't gone to plan for Australia, it's not all doom and gloom.

Australia can draw the series if they win the next two Test matches, with the clash in Indore starting on Wednesday. And on Monday, images of the wicket in Indore were released, sparking a mixed reaction.

First impression of the pitch in Indore was the dry conditions, which were to be expected. However, a light green top in the middle of the pitch could offer the quicks a little, while there was evident red clay at either end. And many observers claimed the pitch could hold up for the batters on the first day, which means the toss will be an important one to win.

Others suggested the pitch will deteriorate, but at a lesser extent than Nagpur and Delhi due to the mixture of the red and black clay the curators may have used. Either way, the dry patches at either end of the pitch certainly had Australian fans once again worried of the spin onslaught that could come the team's way come Wednesday.

Mitchell Starc set for Test match return

While Australia has been dealt a number of setbacks so far in the series, left-hand quick Starc is set to put his hand up to be selected for for the third Test. Australia have missed the speedy left-armer since he broke his finger while fielding during the Boxing Day Test against South Africa at the MCG.

The demolition of the Proteas in December proved to be a costly affair for Australia, who also lost allrounder Cameron Green to the same injury during the match. But the pair will both play in the Test in Indore, starting on Wednesday.

Starc was looking good in the nets against Green having conjured some reverse swing. Starc said he was feeling "good enough" but will need to field with a splint on his finger for protection.

Meanwhile, in a potential shock, India are considering dropping vice-captain KL Rahul for young gun Shubman Gill. The hosts have an unassailable 2-0 lead in the Border-Gavaskar series, but their top-order has come under mounting pressure.

Apart from captain Rohit Sharma starting the series in outstanding form, India's other stars, including Virat Kohli and Rahul, have failed to fire. Gill is viewed by Indian fans as one of the next great batters, starring in white-ball cricket and making an impressive Test debut in Australia during the 2020-21 series.

The 23-year-old was the first Indian batter in the nets during the team's training session in Indore on Monday in a potential sign of things to come.

Steve Smith (pictured) bats during an Australia Test squad training session
Steve Smith (pictured) is set to captain Australia in the third Test against India. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

When India listed their squads for the third and fourth Tests last week, Rahul wasn't listed as vice-captain, and the BCCI have not confirmed if that was intentional or a mistake. After India's second Test triumph in Delhi, Sharma was resolute in his support of Rahul.

"Of late, there has been a lot of talk about his batting," Sharma said. "For us, as team management, we always look at the potential of any individual, not just KL.

"If a guy has potential, he will get an extended run, not just KL. If you look at the couple of (Test) hundreds he got, especially at Lord's (against England), batting on that damp pitch."

with AAP

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