Ranchi: The week since India's dramatic, series-leveling win in Bangalore has been dominated by the rancorous debate over Australia skipper Steve Smith's "brain fade" moment that magnified a flaw with the Decision Review System, and his counterpart Virat Kohli's reaction to it.
When the teams meet in Ranchi, where the toss on Thursday could again determine the result on a contentiously prepared pitch, players on both teams will be focused on one primary objective: taking a 2-1 lead in the four-match series.
Australia's against-the-odds 333-run win in the series-opening match at Pune ended India's long unbeaten stretch in tests on home soil.
The loss stung the top-ranked Indian team, and it reacted with a heightened level of aggression in the second test, which it came back to win by 79 runs on a tense fourth day despite giving up a first-innings lead.
The surface is expected to take turn as the match progresses, likely increasing the degree of difficulty for the team batting last.
Pat Cummins is expected to replace injured Australia pace spearhead Mitchell Starc - and play his first test in more than six years -- and Glenn Maxwell is considered favorite ahead of Marcus Stoinis to fill up the vacant No. 6 spot created when allrounder Mitchell Marsh had the leave the tour to have shoulder surgery.
For India, opener Murali Vijay is fit again and is expected to reclaim his spot from Abhinav Mukund. India could continue with six batsmen and retain Karun Nair.
India: Virat Kohli (Capt.), Lokesh Rahul, Muali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Karun Nair, Wriddiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Abhinav Mukund, Ishant Sharma, Jayant Yadav, Umesh Yadav
Australia: Steven Smith (Capt.), David Warner, Matt Renshaw, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade (wk), Ashton Agar, Jackson Bird, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Steve O'Keefe, MJ Swepson
Pitch and conditions
The wicket square was watered in Ranchi on Tuesday and there were still dark patches visible on the surface on the eve of the match, hinting at inherent moisture. The city had also received substantial rainfall.
Stats and trivia
March 16-20, 2017
Start time 0930 local (0400 GMT)