By John Cheeran
For all the optimism and excitement that Virat Kohli displayed looking at the drop-in pitch at the Perth Stadium, the Indian batsmen are going to have a torrid time. According to curator Brett Sipthorpe, it is going to be the liveliest pitch he could prepare.
Adelaide offered traditional Test cricket at its best, offering everyone a chance to succeed, be it batsman, fast bowler or spinner. It was not a place where batsman worried about sheer survival. On Friday, the key question for the strong Indian batting lineup would be survival at any cost.
Well, that suits Kohli. Kohli thrives on challenges. Bet on Kohli making the best use of his aggressive intent and hammering a century in quickfire time. But what about the others? Will the struggling openers M Vijay and KL Rahul find their feet against the only strong part of the Australian cricket, pace attack? Will Cheteshwar Pujara find enough room to play himself in and steady the innings? There will be questions tougher than these posed by the Aussie pace trio of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.
May be Ravichandran Ashwin’s injury would not hurt India badly since the wicket is going to be overtly pace-friendly. May be India would not miss Ashwin. The question, then, is that should India bring in another fast bowler who can make use of seam movement—in Bhuvaneshwar Kumar– or another spinner in Ravindra Jadeja. Remember, Australia are going to stick with Nathan Lyon even on a hot, hot pacy wicket. It is called variety.
The other injury definitely will not hurt India. Rohit Sharma would not be missed, and his place should be grabbed by Hanuma Vihari by both hands, the man with a lot of promise if not runs.
It has been pointed out that till now India has gone into a Test match without a genuine spinner—with an all pace attack—only two times before. Not only Kohli would be making changes to the winning combination but adding another chapter to history by leaving turn out of his calculations in Perth.
Kohli sounded supremely confident when he spoke to reporters in Perth on Thursday. “We certainly get more excited than nervous looking at lively pitches. We understand that we have a bowling attack that can bowl out the opposition now. When you have four, five bowlers at the peak of their ability, it is always a great feeling to have that in the side. And for us as batsmen also it gives us a lot of motivation and boosts us up that we can put in those significant match-winning performances because we have so much belief in our bowling unit right now and we know that if we bat well, we will definitely get the result we want.”
Tomorrow, the bat should speak, or the ball should talk.