India v Australia
Saturday 4 March 04.00
TV: live on Sky Sports
India had not lost a home Test for five years before a ramshackle performance against Australia in Pune. They were trounced. Beaten at their own game. Humiliated, if you like.
But what chance a second defeat? Well, the last time they lost two on the spin was when they lost one, if you get me - five years ago again against Alastair Cook's England.
Having bowled out Australia for 260 in the first innings India were well on course to cop. But then they produced a barely believable batting display, being rolled for just 105. And they were 94 for three at one point. There was no coming back from that on a turning wicket.
They are expected to keep the same XI for this one. But on the back of such a beating Ravi Ashwin at No 6 suddenly looks a place too high.
Australia probably took themselves by surprise with their performance in game one. Steve Smith and Steve O'Keefe were the heroes. It's not often two players can win a Test on their own but they did it.
Smith's second-innings 109 was the final nail in India's coffin. It allowed O'Keefe, who had already taken six wickets, to whirl away with freedom to collect another six in dig two with India managing only 107.
Unsurprisingly Australia are unchanged. And despite Pune, we are still not convinced of their batting prowess against spin.
The average first-innings score in the last nine Tests (since 2000) is 330. In that time only two sides have failed to pass 300 - India's 158 against South Africa in 2000 and South Africa's 214 in 2015. In 2007 India amassed 626 batting first against Pakistan. It really should be a good batting wicket first up before taking turn later on.
Unsettling isn't it when the status quo is shocked like it was in Pune? It is a perfectly legitimate question to ask: how the hell did that happen?
It's not easy to answer. India, unbeatable and powerful, were spun out by an Australian. Were they guilty of doctoring the pitch too much?
That is the accusation. But in truth India have not really been doing that during their strong run at home. The wickets have turned but they have not needed to prepare bunsens, making it a toss lottery, even if they have won the majority.
Another question: can it happen again? It is very hard to see Australia as backable at [4.4] even if they have two wins from four at the venue. We need greater evidence than one game that they have solved their historic problems against spin. Likewise we need more evidence than one game that India have suddenly become hopeless.
And that makes India a value call at [2.16]. Remember they were no better than [1.7] for Pune. The draw is [3.2] and what we are perhaps most confident of is that trading as jolly in the first two days.
Virat Kohli at [3.6] has a good record at the Chinnaswamy. Kohli has 154 runs in two innings - one 50, one ton. But there is some domestic form here to be aware of. KL Rahul, the opener, has a triple ton to his name two years ago. Murali Vijay has a double in 2013. The pair are [6.4] and [6.2] respectively.
Smithis [3.7] favourite and it doesn't look as though he has much to beat. Shaun Marsh has shown decent form against spin but failed in Pune. He might be a reasonable alternative at [6.2].
2pts India [2.14]
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017.
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