India v Australia Fourth Test Tips: Back Pujara and Head on uncertain pitch

Chet Pujara
Pujara looked in great touch

Ed Hawkins previews the final Test in Ahmedabad from Thursday and urges punters to keep an eye on the pitch...

  • India 1.584/7 favourites to win final test

  • Pitch could be another raging turner

  • Pujara and Head fancies for top bats


  • India v Australia
    Thursday 9 March, 04:00

    TV: Live on BT Sports

    Team news

    India got a taste of their own medicine in Indore. And they didn't like it. Perhaps one of these days they may work out they don't need raging turners to win. Against England - and now the Aussies - they have lost home Tests that man for man they should not be losing.

    A greener pitch in Ahemadabad, talked up by Rohit Sharma to help them prep for the World Test Championship final before Indore (arrogance much?) may mean they may not play three spinners. Axar Patel's batting has been ace but Mohmamad Shami may come in. But there's plenty of gossip about the surface.

    Possible XI: Rohit, Gill, Pujara, Kohli, Jadeja, Shreyas, Bharat, Axar, Ashwin, Yadav, Siraj

    Australia are tantalised by an unlikely 2-2 draw when a whitewash looked a certainty. They were terrific in game three and even avoided a fourth-innings wobble in what could have been a very challenging chase on a minefield.

    They remain without their skip, Pat Cummins, so Steve Smith leads. Travis Head is warming to his task and opened well in the absence of David Warner.

    Oddly, Australia may now hope for a turner with Nathan Lyon, Matt Kuhnemann and Todd Murphy relishing the battle.

    Possible XI: Head, Khawaja, Labushcagne, Smith, Handscomb, Green, Carey, Starc, Lyon, Murphy, Kuhnemann

    Pitch report

    The pitch dictates everything. From early images there appeared to be plenty of grass on the surface. It just didn't look a raging tuner two days out and would need to undergo quite some transformation for it to be a cracked dustbowl.

    However, it later emerged a second pitch was under consideration. And this was without grass and looked very similar to the previous three venue surfaces. Indeed, it resembled the sort that England got spun out on twice in 2021 at this ground. In the two games 48 of 60 wickets fell to spin and England didn't make more than 205.

    All bets are off, though, in terms of innings runs until we get a proper look at the chosen surface. So hold fire on that desire to lay the Aussies for 225 or more at around 2.206/5

    How to play

    India are 1.584/7, Australia 3.953/1 and the draw 8.4015/2. There's nothing particularly surprising about those prices after word spread about the pitch news.

    Clearly, we're not tipping a 1.584/7 shot but it wouldn't do any harm to use the old Cricket...Only Bettor strategy for this Test of adding 25% to each team's price and placing an order. Then wait for the carnage.

    In the fourth innings anything more than 120-odd could be a very tricky chase. We may see plenty of flips in this market.

    Tops value

    We were impressed with Chet Pujara's vigil in Indore. He looks to be in good touch and focussed. Consider the 4/1 that he tops for India in the first dig or a runs buy at around 31.5.

    For Australia, we like Head's attuitude. The 5/1 he top scores might not be the worst idea. He has grown into this series and may have found a way. He'll also bat on the wicket when it's either at its best or has just had the heavy roller. His runs could be bought at around 29.5.

    Back C Pujara over 31.5 runs

    5/6

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