Australia opener Aaron Finch believes that all three results are possible at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in the third Test against India. Finch was speaking after the hosts faced some resistance late on the second day but safely reached 8 runs without a wicket loss but trail India by 435 runs after the visitors scored 443/7 declared.
“It’s not your traditional Australian wicket where you have three slips and a gully all day and you bang away, and the ball seams and carries like we saw in Perth. There, a lot of dismissals were behind the wicket,” Finch said in the post match press conference.
“On such pitches, I think you’ve just got to adapt your game plan and regardless of what the wicket is, you’ve got to be good enough to adapt and change your plans and execute on the day.”
This wicket is probably deteriorating more than we thought it would. Even tonight it was skidding through, there were a couple that took off. So it’s still game on if we bowl well and put India under pressure (in the second innings). “I think all three results are still on the table, 100 per cent, India (victory), Australia (victory) and a draw.”
Cheteshwar Pujara struck a century and combined with India captain Virat Kohli (82) to put India in control on the second day.
With Australian bowling toiling for almost all six sessions of play at the MCG for the Boxing Day Test, Finch praised the unit for the effort while singling out Pat Cummins who picked up 3/72 in 34 overs and then came out to bat as the night-watchman. “I think Patty Cummins was 34 overs for the innings and then to strap the pads on to be night-watchman is a pretty brave effort. I think the way that Pat keeps fronting up and coming back is a real testament to his fitness.”
“He probably didn’t get the rewards he deserved in the first two Tests, but you’ve heard every coach say it, you can bowl a lot worse and get a lot more wickets,” Finch said.
Cummins took the big wicket of centurion Pujara and also struck to dismiss Hanuma Vihari and Mayank Agarwal at the top of the order. “I’m sure his rewards will come. There’s pace, there’s bounce, when there’s not a lot happening he seems to be the guy who can make something out of nothing. Touch wood that continues for a long time.
“He’s a super player, talent with the bat, with the ball, in the field, although he dropped one today that’s beside the point. He’s just a super package as a cricketer and an even better bloke as well.”
Australia bowlers were made to toil for 169.4 overs before the Indian team management decided to declare following the dismissal of Ravindra Jadeja. “It was a long stint. I think having Mitch Marsh there was a real crucial part of that bowling attack, the way he controlled the run rate as well. The amount of work the guys did bowling to plans it would’ve been easy particularly in that second session today to let the game really get away from us. Before you know it they’re 450-500 just after tea and it’s a tough way back into the game then. The way they were grinding away and rolled up their sleeves and did the hard work was outstanding. Obviously they’re tired, no doubt.”
Finch stated he wasn’t surprised to see India keep it late for the declaration and used the last 25 minutes to eke out an early wicket or two from Australia. “After Kohli and Pujara fell, I think their plans changed a bit. They were 300-odd for five wickets down and I think we sniffed an opportunity. Their middle order played well, and it is still well and truly game on.”
“I wasn’t surprised at all especially with us having been in the field for two days. It was attraction of having us at two-down overnight and it is really positive, and I thought most teams in their position would have done the same thing,” he signed off.