India v Australia third Test preview and best bets

India and Australia renew hostilities in the third Test which begins in Indore on Wednesday morning – read Richard Mann’s preview here.

The Man of the Match market can be a tough lover and a cruel blow has been dealt to the readers of these pages if last week the 9/1 recommended pick, RAVI ASWHINwas piped by his filming partner Ravi Jadeja for the award.

It’s generally unwise to overthink bad beats, but after constructing both of Australia’s batting slumps, they eliminated Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith in the same over in the first innings, then claimed three quick wickets in the second dig to scoop the tourists down to 95-5 from a promising 65-1, it’s fair to argue that Ashwin put in a lot of hard work throughout the game.

Add to that his 114-run partnership with Axar Patel, who saved India in their own batting innings, and the case for Ashwin was strong until Jadeja mopped up Australia’s tail in the second innings, taking the last five wickets to finish 10 in the game. A defeat from the clutches of victory.

Ashwin ready to go again

With Sky Bet sticking with the third test starting Wednesday morning in Indore I make no apologies for taking the bait and reloading on 1st September.

The case for Ashwin remains incredibly solid. At the halfway point in the series, he has 14 wickets with an average of 13.92, while averaging 30.00 with the bat. With India’s strong favorite making it 3-0 in Indore and they can’t be left out, he looks sure to be firmly back in the mix for the Man of the Match award.

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The other significant factor is the power he appears to have over the opposition: he has now taken 103 wickets home and away against Australia and, particularly on home turf, the tourists seem to have no answers when faced with the off-spinner .

With David Warner and Matt Renshaw flying home, coupled with Cameron Green’s return to full fitness, this will at least give the Australians another right turn to attack Ashwin with, but he’s already bowled beautifully against Smith and Labuschagne – often changing his angle by bending around the wicket to achieve good effect – and there should be many more successes in store for him.

The cards didn’t quite get in his way last time out when it came to snagging those cheap, lower tier wickets that often count more than they should, but that could change slightly here and the current odds still stand represent a value.

Rohit poised to fire as Australia wilts

I would like a second string on my bow though and as Jadeja was passed over thinking he was passed by Ashwin in Delhi I might add ROHIT SHARMA to the layout plan.

Rohit is already India’s leading runs scorer in the series after a brilliant century in the first Test, and after missing many cricket matches through injury over the last year he is now looking straight back to his best.

I still consider him India’s best spin player and while I’m impressed by how good Virat Kohli has looked throughout this series, it’s the current captain who is favored over what we’ve seen so far.

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Additionally, Rohit has long been the type of player who gets better over the course of a streak. As India toured England in 2021, Rohit improved that summer, finishing the oval with a 100, earning him the Man of the Match award. With England touring India a few months later, Rohit started slow before scoring a century in the second Test and then maintained that form for the rest of the series.

In summary, I certainly don’t think he’s done yet, and while bowlers have hit the headlines so far when New Zealand played a two-match streak in India in late 2021, both Man of the Match awards were won by batsmen who made it have hundreds.

Ashwin obviously has a lot going for him, but having a saver against one of the home batsmen at double-digit odds, in this case 12/1, makes perfect sense.

Smith isn’t done yet, but Ashwin’s threat remains

The final conundrum is whether to attack Steve Smith again after a couple of low results in Delhi.

10/3 is now being offered for Smith in the Australian first innings batsman market and the carrot has certainly been dangled but we’ve already put Smith aside for top batsman in the Australian series and I’m not sure I will that wants to plan further investments.

That’s not to say Smith isn’t a good spin player – he definitely is. He came to this series in India averaging 60 years old and I am sure that eventually he will find a way to fight Ashwin. But Smith rarely sweeps, so it was worrying to see him dismissed that way at the second dig last week.

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The other thing to consider is how well Peter Handscomb has played since returning to the side in conditions that he clearly likes.

A good spin player, Handscomb hit beautifully for his unbeaten 72 in the first innings at Indore, showing his promising performance in the first Test. He looks as comfortable as any of the visiting batsmen, which is what we’ve seen in the first two games.

His chance has to be respected and odds of 7/1 probably don’t do him justice, however I’m happy to sit this one out and focus on the Man of the Match market.

The preview was published on 02/26/2023 at 2140 GMT

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