Ahead of the third Test in Indore, former Australia fast bowler Mitchell Johnson has thrown his weight behind Travis Head to be made captain. Johnson was part of an expert panel of The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. Head had been tipped for a great career and his prospects as a captain increased when he was in-charge of the South Australian Under-19 team which won the national championships a decade ago.
Johnson has picked ahead of Steve Smith who is to captain the team in the absence of Pat Cummins, who has traveled back home to be with his ill mother.
Johnson’s team has three spinners, off-spinners Nathan Lyon and Toddy Murphy and left-arm spinner Matt Kuhnemann. The fast bowlers include all-rounder Cameron Green and Mitchell Starc, both back from injury-forced breaks.
On the other hand former Australia captain Greg Chappell believes the team must go with their best bowlers, even if it means playing just two spinners Lyon and Murphy. Chappell goes with three fast bowlers, Scott Boland, who played in the first Test in Nagpur, Green and Starc. Smith is Chappell’s pick for captain.
Former captain Mark Taylor believes Australia should not blindly pick three spinners and keep the option of playing Boland after studying the pitch closely on match eve.
While Matthew Hayden, in India as an expert commentator during the during, has gone with three spinners with Green and Starc as the two fast bowlers.
Meanwhile, the pitch in Indore is an interesting one. The track at Indore’s Holkar Stadium – venue for the third Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy – provides a fresh puzzle to the Australia team as it is a combination of both red and black soil.
The pitch in Indore has a red soil coating at the top and black soil underneath to hold everything together. It is similar to the present-day wicket at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai and puts the Australian batsmen under scrutiny against Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel. With the sweep shot proving to be their biggest undoing in the Delhi Test, Australia without their regular captain Pat Cummins – Steve Smith will lead in Indore – are looking to bounce back and keep the series alive.