New Delhi: After the decision review system (DRS) drama in Bengaluru, world's top two ranked teams India and Australia now heads to Ranchi for the all-important third Test match of the series.
India, thanks to their 75-run win and the bragging rights earned after Aussie skipper Steve Smith was caught seeking advice on the DRS call, will start as the favourites.
India won the second Test in Bengaluru to leave the series tantalisingly poised at 1-1 but simmering tensions boiled over when the hosts` captain accused his opposite number of abusing the DRS.
The controversy surrounding the DRS and the subsequent mud-slinging between the two camps will add spice to the match.
Interestingly, the International Cricket Council (ICC), which decided not to punish either Virat Kohli or Steve Smith over the flare-up, has called the two skippers together for clear-the-air talks ahead of the match.
But former players on both sides have again been stirring things up ahead of Ranchi, a match in which India must avoid defeat if they want to win back the Border-Gavaskar trophy.
Australia`s hopes suffered a double blow last week when allrounder Mitchell Marsh and pace spearhead Mitchell Starc were ruled out of the last two Test with injuries.
India`s concerns are centred on the form of Kohli who has totalled just 40 runs in the series after scoring double centuries in the last four Test series.
The meeting between Smith and Kohli was agreed to by their respective boards amid warnings the series risked degenerating into anarchy.
India were furious when Smith was spotted looking up at his dressing-room for guidance on whether to seek a review of the umpire`s decision after being given out LBW– a clear breach of the DRS rules.
While Smith called it a one-off "brain fade", Kohli said it was not an isolated incident – a claim the Australia board branded "outrageous".
India: Virat Kohli (capt), Murali Vijay, Lokesh Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Karun Nair, Jayant Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav, Abhinav Mukund.
Australia: Steve Smith (capt), David Warner, Ashton Agar, Jackson Bird, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve O`Keefe, Matthew Renshaw, Pat Cummins, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade.
TV listing: Star Sports 1, Star Sports HD 1 — ENGLISH; Star Sports 3, Star Sports HD 3 — HINDI
Live streaming: Hotstar
Date: Mar 16-20, 2017
Time: 9:30 IST (Everyday)
Venue: JSCA International Cricket Stadium, Ranchi
(With Agency inputs)