It is a clash of Titans as the Baggy Greens will take on the Men in Blue. ICC test championship rules have been changed to percentage points and Australia jumped to rank 1 by winning 82.2 percentage, whereas India has a rate of 75 percent. In the earlier format of points, India was sitting pretty at the top position.
When India defeated Australia for the first time in Australia, they have created a wounded Cobra. Australian indomitable spirit will not rest until they avenge.
Australia has an enviable record of 7-0 in Day-Night tests and that too 4 tests they have won at Adelaide. So definitely Australia scores here over India.
The ball has a lacquer which is thicker so the ball swings much more and bounces more than even a white ball and definitely more than red cherry.
In view of this drive go out of the equation, backfoot play comes into play. Cut, pull, and fending becomes the order of play.
Here Australians are adept at cutting and pulling. They are tentative against front foot play but at back foot play, they are at ease.
However Indian batsmen are essentially front foot players. Cut and pull exponent Shikhar, Rohit and Hardik are not in the team. So it is an acid test.
Pitch will have bounce and movement. So tall bowlers will be able to throw chin music and good length bowls will take the top of the bat.
Australia has Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazelwood, and no 1 bowler Pat Cummins. They will play havoc with the Indian batsmen and many of them could end up edging the ball.
Indian pace will be spearheaded by Shami, Bumrah, and Saini or Umesh.
Bumrah is no longer the same bowler after his stress fracture and his sudden kick is missing along with yorkers as these two balls require extra effort. One can see his strike rate has dipped by a large extent.
Shami is good with the older ball and if a breakthrough is not taken early, a huge score will be set. So set batsmen can cope with his movement. Saini or Umesh is too erratic. further Umesh is brilliant with a reverse swing but as the saliva rule is applicable, reverse swing is out of the equation.
In the spin department, Nathan Lyon is a huge exponent and his record is enviable against India. His variable bounce with the pink ball will be a factor in 2nd innings.
Ashwin has been rated as a player of the decade by the world but Dhoni and his Disciple Kohli despise him for his outspoken attitude. So a player who holds many world records is not included in one-dayers and T20s. He was dropped even in the last test series against Australia in spite of the fact that he won the first test. So his morale is down and he may announce retirement. But he is a fighter and we hope that once Kohli goes back he gets his due.
Jadeja is injured and Kuldeep is at his low ebb. Kuldeep lost his place even in his IPL team so Indians can just pray.
Further Starc, Cummins, and Lyon were rested so they will be raring to avenge the loss.
The Australian team is bolstered by the return of Smith and Marnus Labuschagne. They have strengthened the side by a huge proportion. Green hit a century in a practice match. The absence of Warner has brought India into contention and another opener can be targetted.
It looks tough to visualize India taking 20 wickets in the match. Smith has shown his form in one-dayers and he hit 4 centuries in 2015 against India. he wants to eclipse Kohli and in Tests and he will do so.
For India, Opening is an issue. Mayank has been brilliant but with the pink ball, he will give an edge. Prithvi Shaw has a technical issue and he may cut and pull but he will perish after a quickfire knock as in New Zealand.
Kohli will be leaving midway through the series so his heart is not in the series. He has not hit any century for the last one and half years so even a 50+ score scored by him is not enough for the Indian cause Rahane and Pujara will offer some resistance but it will not be enough.
Pant is a great test player but not a good one day or dependable T20 as he holes out in deep. Let’s hope that he is picked. Saha will find it tough to score in the Australian conditions.
So Indian batting will fail. Shikhar, Rohit, and Hardik should have been on the team to counter the offensive.
When the most coveted test series is on the way, Indian Captain decided to go back when delivery is one month away. I have seen in NBA that players go for 2 to 3 days and then they are back. What ripple does it create?
This act states that the Indian team does not feel that this series as important. So players will play for their individual milestones and cementing their place.
To add salt to the wound ego hassles of Ashwin, Rohit and Shikhar are causing disharmony.
On the other hand, Tim Paine is playing so that he avenges his loss and probably he will retire after the series. Smith is the rightful Captain but he has not shown any attitude which may adversely affect the team performance.
So the Indian team is not a team anymore but a group of individuals.
If India bats first they will be skittled out for sub 300 and Australia will make 450+ and in 2nd innings, India will again make sub 300, and India will lose easily. If Australia bats first, they will pile up a mammoth score. India will cave in and there will be a looming risk of follow on.
Hope Things change when Rohit comes back and I hope he is handed over the captaincy.
Painful viewing for Indian fans.
Cover picture credits: CricXtasy