Perth Test preview: Will Team India go with four pacers?

Updated: Dec 14, 2018, 08:27 IST | Gaurav Joshi | Perth

Visitors likely to play four speedsters on seam-friendly Perth wicket v Oz today

Indian pacers Jasprit Bumrah (centre), Ishant Sharma (left) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar during a training session on the eve of the second Test against Australia at Perth’s Optus Stadium yesterday. Pic/AFP
Indian pacers Jasprit Bumrah (centre), Ishant Sharma (left) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar during a training session on the eve of the second Test against Australia at Perth’s Optus Stadium yesterday. Pic/AFP

Ever since the Indian team landed in Perth, the local papers and radio stations have been talking about a spiteful Optus Stadium pitch. And a well-rolled grassy pitch it will be at the Optus Stadium for the second India v Australia Test.

Injured Rohit, Ash ruled out
India were struck by a cruel blow in their final training session with the news of Ravichandran Ashwin and Rohit Sharma being ruled out of the second Test due to injuries. Ashwin suffered an abdominal strain while Rohit jarred his back while fielding in Adelaide. Add to that, Prithvi Shaw is still to recover from his ankle injury. Hanuma Vihari will be the straight replacement for Rohit, but it is the bowling front that presents headaches for the Indian team management.

The amount of grass on the surface and the loss of Ashwin means India could well opt to play four fast bowlers. Earlier this year, Virat Kohli fielded an all-seam attack in Johannesburg on a pitch that was conducive to fast bowling, a decision that turned out to be a masterstroke as India defeated South Africa by 63 runs.

While the Optus Stadium pitch might not be as treacherous, the absence of Ashwin means the fourth bowling spot will be a battle between Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav. Given Bhuvneshwar's ability with the willow and the nature of deck, the swing maestro is the warm favourite to play in the XI. The other option is to play Ravindra Jadeja.

On the other side of the coin, a sight of a quick pitch will have the likes of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc licking their lips. But while India are likely to head down the channel of playing four fast bowlers, Nathan Lyon will be a certain starter for the hosts. The challenge for Australia is, can their batsmen conjure up sufficient runs against the Indian bowlers, who are high on confidence.

Big test for Aussie batters
The hosts have an awful record in recent times on pitches that have aided seam movement and without Steven Smith or David Warner, it will be a huge test for this inexperienced batting line-up.

Ten years ago, all the hype in the lead-up to the 2008 Perth Test was about the pitch, but it was the superior skills of the Indian batsmen that dictated the result. Like then, the fortunes in the second Test could well be decided by the team which bats better.

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