India are set for their biggest challenge Down Under, as they take on Australia in the four-Test series, Down Under, for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. India are the defending champions, having won it during their last visit, in 2018-19. However, the challenge would be even more formidable this term.
With a history in the reckoning, Team India is sure to leave no stones unturned to defend the Border-Gavaskar Trophy successfully in the upcoming four-Test series, Down Under. It was during their last visit in 2018-19 when the side became the first Asian team to win a Test series in Australia.
However, things would be vastly different from the last time. The Australian side was relatively a weaker one, having missed out on the services of two of their prime batsmen, David Warner and Steve Smith. Now, with the two back in the reckoning, this would turn out to be India's most significant challenge ever, Down Under. But, how would things actually turn out for India?
Team strength and weaknesses
Both the teams are coming off their limited-overs campaign, with both possessing mixed luck. While Australia won the ODIs, India bounced back with the T20Is. However, what was notable for India was their struggle with the ball, while their batting fared quite well.
Meanwhile, the Australians were notable for their all-rounder performance. However, their bowling looked relatively weaker, compared to their batting. Also, with their prime pacers being smacked for runs, the onus boiled down to the spinners, who were somewhat successful in containing the flow of the runs. As for their batting, it is excellent and is undoubtedly their biggest strength, going into the Tests.
Analysing the squad, the Indians have come up with a surprise, as they possess a batting-heavy side. With as many as 13 batsmen across departments, India have no shortage of it and can easily replace one in when needed. However, too much of it could prove to be a headache for skipper Virat Kohli.
As for the bowling, it is weak, but they do possess the experience of the ones from the last tour, who helped India win it the last time. The likes of Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah know what to do on these tracks and conditions. Also, veteran off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin can do his part on any given day or track.
However, the concern could be regarding the inexperience of Mohammed Siraj and Navdeep Saini. Furthermore, Kuldeep Yadav's unpredictable poor run makes him a jumble in the side.
As for Australia, they have a balanced squad in all departments, Smith being back is a huge morale booster for the side. However, Warner missing out on the opening Test due to a groin injury, along with other injury concerns, is what Australia need to overcome, mentally. Also, the poor form of their prime seamer, Mitchell Starc is undoubtedly a matter of concern.
Nonetheless, as far as their batting is concerned, there is hardly anything to panic. Moreover, their good run in the limited-overs, followed by a reliable show in the warm-ups was enough to get them going.
Players to watch out
For India, there is hardly any injury concern, other than Ravindra Jadeja's concussion. So, keeping that concern out of the way, the players are cleared for a full go, which makes opening batsmen Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw among the most-watched list. While Mayank is coming off a poor run in the limited-overs, Shaw was unimpressive in the two warm-up games.
Meanwhile, their bowling is of utmost concern. Although Bumrah is their number one pacer, he has been far from his best in the limited-overs and would be crucial for him to bounce back in the Tests. Also, it would be interesting to see how Hanuma Vihari fares, as he is set to have a go in the opening Test. Among the spinners, Ashwin's impact would be exciting to notice.
For Australia, Smith would be the one to be watched out for, as he was far from his best in the limited-overs. Nonetheless, he is known to be brutal in the format at home and would be relishing to have a go at the Indian bowlers, along with Marnus Labuschagne.
As for their bowlers, Starc has a task ta hand to prove his worth with his deadly seam, which was missing during the ODIs. Also, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood would come in handy, who were impactful in the limited-overs, while Test specialist spinner Nathan Lyon could give a tough time to the Indian batsmen.
Milestones in the reckoning
Jadeja: Jadeja has 1,869 runs and would need 131 more to enter the 2,000-run club in Tests, besides becoming the 41st Indian to do so.
Lyon: The spinner has claimed 390 international wickets and needs 10 more for his 400th, thus becoming the third Australian to do so. Also, provided he plays all the four Tests, he would become the 13th Australia to enter the 100-Test club.
Hazlewood: The pacer has claimed 195 international wickets for Australia and needs five more to enter the 200-wicket club, besides becoming the eighth Australian to do so.
Australia: Joe Burns, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Tim Paine (wk & c), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Matthew Wade (wk), Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, James Pattinson, Michael Neser and Mitchell Swepson.
India: Prithvi Shaw, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane (vc), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, KL Rahul (wk), Shubman Gill, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Siraj, Wriddhiman Saha (wk) and Kuldeep Yadav.
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Last Updated Dec 16, 2020, 5:21 PM IST