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India vs Australia test series is about to get underway and this is what everyone has been waiting for. The T20 series between India and Australia was shared 1-1 after rain saved Australia from a likely defeat in the second T20 international. To be honest, though, the result of that series was pretty irrelevant. India won the T20 series in England and dominated the ODI series in South Africa (after winning the T20 internationals) and yet the tours were considered a failure because of the losses in the test series.
If India manages to win or even draw this test series then it will be one of the greatest feats in its cricketing history.
Australia looks ripe for the taking without Steve Smith and David Warner but it should not be underestimated. The Australians have a world class bowling attack and batsmen that are brilliant in home conditions.
Everything points to a close contest in this India vs Australia test series which begins in Adelaide.
Adelaide is not the place where Australia likes to start test matches because it does not quite have the same pace and bounce as Gabba or the Perth Stadium. The team has no choice but to look for the positives and try to win against India before they get settled into the test series.
There is a lot of speculation about the batting positions, team composition, and strategy that the Australian side will employ against India. Let’s get the easy things out of the way.
Australia is going to go into the first test with three world-class quicks and possible the best off-spinner in the world during the opening match. Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazelwood, Pat Cummins, and Nathan Lyon have been the bowlers to wreak havoc on visiting sides in recent times and that combination is not going to be tinkered with.
Mitchell Starc gave a small exhibition of his pace during the final T20 and a lot more fire can be expected of him in the test series. Starc has been a bit quieter in the lead-up to the first test as a part of the new improved Australian attitude but we have no doubt he has Virat Kohli in his sights.
The battle between Starc and Kohli should be very intriguing. Starc has the natural angle to take the ball outside from the off-stump that troubles Kohli but the Indian skipper has shown the ability to adapt.
While Starc may be the most hyped of the Australian bowlers we believe it is the other three that are going to be more effective. Pat Cummins brings the ball back in and is a genuine wicket-taker.
He kept on running in even during the end of the day’s play during the Ashes and gets steep bounce with the old ball as well. Josh Hazelwood is going to be the biggest threat to the openers while Nathan Lyon is always at the batsmen.
The Aussies have a bowling attack that is second to none but their batting has a lot of questions to answer. We think Marcus Harris, Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, and Tim Paine will form the Australian batting unit in the same order.
Harris is going to make his debut, Finch in unproven in red-ball cricket at the top, Khawaja is returning from injury, and the rest have struggled with the bat too. At home, though, these players are very different from what they seemed in the UAE.
Australia is going to be up against a skillful Indian bowling attack but they have the quality in the side to score the runs required to win.
Marcus Harris, Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, TM Head, Tim Paine, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, JR Hazlewood, Nathan Michael Lyon.
Everywhere you go and everyone you talk to seems to think this is India’s best chance of winning a test match in Australia. There is no doubt about that. To say, however, that India is favorites and expected to win is taking things a bit too far.
India is a notoriously poor starter in overseas tests. It lost the first two tests in South Africa and England as well before registering a win. For India to have any ambition of avoiding defeat in this series, the side must start better.
There are a number of questions that need to be answered before the first test in Adelaide.
Who are India’s openers going to be? What is the best composition of the bowling attack? Is Rohit Sharma going to play the first test against India?
Let’s start with the batting. We think Prithvi Shaw has done enough to keep his place in the side at the moment and even though Lokesh Rahul may not appear to be in form, he scored a magnificent hundred in the last test against England. These two should open for India in Adelaide.
Pujara, Kohli, Rahane at 3, 4, 5 respectively seems set in stone. Pujara won the admiration of the side with a tough inning in South Africa and a brilliant rearguard century in India. Kohli is the heart and soul of this batting. He also absolutely loves batting in Adelaide.
Virat Kohli has three hundreds in four innings at the Adelaide Oval. He scored a century in both innings the last time India was there in 2014 and very nearly led India to a magnificent victory. He has some unfinished business to take care of and is going to be the biggest threat to Australia.
Ajinkya Rahane has been out for form for a very long time but should have good memories of the Australian tour. His position looks a little precarious as compared to the others.
Now, the debate at number 6. India has the option of playing Rishab Pant, Hanuma Vihari, or Rohit Sharma at that position. Playing Pant at 6 seems a tad bit high but he batted there consistently in England and did pretty well.
Hanuma Vihari also scored runs in the only opportunity he got but having an in-form Rohit Sharma in the squad may be too might a temptation to resist. Neither of these players can bowl much and so India will be playing just four bowlers if they include Rohit or Vihari.
The fast bowlers look likely to be Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, and Mohammad Shami for the first test. All three bowlers can bowl with pace and are genuine wicket takers. The lone remaining spot of the spinner has to be decided between Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, and Ravi Ashwin.
We believe that it will be either Jadeja or Kuldeep that plays the first test for India. Jadeja was very good with both bat and ball in England while Kuldeep has the mystery of a wrist spinner. India could also opt to play the extra bowler by leaving out Rohit and Hanuma Vihari.
M Vijay, Lokesh Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, V Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, RR Pant, Ravichandran Ashwin, JJ Bumrah, I Sharma, Mohammed Shami.
The side winning the toss is likely to want to bat first
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The Adelaide Oval has had a very slight covering of grass in the last few test matches that have been played there. Since the venue has been hosting day-night matches primarily, the curators wanted to make sure that the grass does not end up providing too much movement to the fast bowlers.
A slightly more covering of grass for the day test can be expected. Traditionally, the surface in Adelaide is the best for batting on Day 2 and 3 before it starts providing help to the spinners. It is an excellent cricket surface which provides enthralling cricket on most occasions.
The weather forecast for the Adelaide test between India and Australia is quite good. The first two days may have some cloud cover but it gets sunny for the remaining three days.
Forget the hype and look at the facts. Australia has a world class bowling attack, is playing at home, has batsmen that have scored runs by the bucketful when they played at home last. India is unsure of its best openers, best spinner, and is missing a key al-rounder, and has a batting lineup that is very dependant on Virat Kohli.
Back the home team to win the opening encounter between the two sides.
Back Australia to win.
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