Perth Test: Green pitch set to test India’s skills and Australia’s resolve

first_imgThe venue of classic Test matches, happy hunting ground for pacers and harbinger of nightmares for touring batsmen. Perth brings back many memories – pleasant and scary – for cricket aficionados from different eras from different parts of the world.Perth is where India and Australia will line up Friday morning to play the second Test after Virat Kohli’s pacers outbowled Australia’s to set up a 31-run win at the Adelaide Oval earlier this week. Action will move from the iconic WACA to the spanking new Perth Stadium but the nature of the pitch has understandably dominated headlines on the eve of the Test.The pitch curator unveiled a green top and promised plenty of pace and bounce. Two days out from the match, Tim Paine and a few former Australian cricketers warned India: be ready for a barrage of pace. They had perhaps forgotten that Indian teams in recent years have cherished the prospect of playing on fast and bouncy pitches – remember Durban 2010, Lord’s 2014 and Johannesburg 2018.Virat Kohli saw the pitch and immediately said he was ready for the challenge. Bring it on and don’t shave off anymore grass. India’s pacers have been sensational in 2018 – their resilience and grit have resulted in three memorable wins in Johannesburg, Nottingham and Adelaide.But India have yet to win an overseas Test series this year. Those one-off wins did nothing to improve India’s reputation as poor travellers. Barring Virat Kohli and to an extent Cheteshwar Pujara, the others have disappointed.advertisementThat cannot be the case anymore. After the collapse on the first morning in Adelaide, Pujara came to the rescue with one of his most memorable hundreds before the bowlers stepped up to keep India slightly ahead. It was a far more improved batting show in the second innings but on a green pitch in Perth, India will need to dig deep into their skill sets.Kohli, Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane are classy batsmen with 14821 runs between them in Test cricket. Most importantly, all three have played gutsy knocks on green pitches and the trio was instrumental in India’s dogged batting display on a dodgy pitch in Johannesburg.There is no doubt this Indian batting line-up is highly skilled but sometimes the batsmen have been guilty of letting their emotions get the better of them. They all want to play their part in overseas Test victories and perhaps the pressure has been telling.That cannot happen in Perth against the likes of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins. These men will be eager to put behind them the disappointment of Adelaide on a green pitch that should be their ally in Perth.However, Australia will need more than the fire their very capable pacers can breathe – they need resolve. In the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner, the likes of Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh have to lead from the front. Much was expected of Khawaja in the first Test but he failed; Marsh looked promising in the second innings but that was not nearly not enough.Travis Head looks solid and that should Australia in good stead in conditions they would like to believe favour them more.Marcus Harris looked good on debut but he would be disappointed with his dismissals after scoring 26 in each innings. His opening partner Aaron Finch, meanwhile, needs to figure out how to remain at the crease longer before he thinks of destroying bowlers.Tim Paine may not be a prolific run-scorer but he has proven to be a courageous captain – his knock in a determined draw against Pakistan should inspire his men to fight harder on their own turf against the world’s No.1 Test team.The next five days should produce some riveting cricket. One team has the chance to take a step closer to history while the other would want to show their home crowd some spunk. Test cricket might just get to see one of its finest matches of the year in Perth starting Friday.Also Read | Mohinder Amarnath says advantage India in tight Test series vs AustraliaAlso Read | Have to be switched on from ball one against India’s bowlers: Marcus HarrisAlso Read | India will be undisputed No.1 in the world if they beat Australia: Mark ButcherAlso Read | India have a sniff of something special and we have to be careful, says Tim Painelast_img read more