Border Gavaskar Test Series: Ultimate Frontier For Indian Cricket
All conquering Australian Captain Steve Waugh before a crucial test series against India in India once termed India as his final frontier. Same can be tagged against Virat Kohli mission in Australia.
This Australian team is well below its best and this Indian team is possibly the best ever touring Australia. The Border Gavsakar 4 matches test series starts tomorrow at picturesque Adelaide Oval with the expectation of epic contest. The remaining three tests would be played at Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.
Not to speak of test series win even winning tests in Australia proved extremely difficult for Indians. Since the crushing defeat to Bradman’s great team in 1948 India managed to win only 5 tests out of 44 they have played so far in down under. Fast bouncy Australian wickets and quality pace attack of Australia always proved Achilles Heels for Indian batsmen. The next tour of India after that disastrous tour in 1948 happened in 1968. The third followed in 1978.
However, in recent times any cricket encounter between these two higher ranked cricket teams has witnessed great contests. The introduction of Border Gavaskar trophy has made it as sought-after contests at the famous Ashes. The series is named after Allan Border, Australia and Sunil Gavaskar, India, who both scored over 10,000 test runs and captained their national teams.
India with 112 points is the top team in ICC ranking while Australia after losses in South Africa and against Pakistan in UAE ranks 5th. But as has been said above playing Australians in Australia against any Australian team is a tough ask.
India was always a great batting unit and spin dominated attack. But this Indian team has quality fast bowling attack, good aggressive batsmen and led by arguably the best batsman of current world cricket Virat Kohli.
Australia on the other hand suffered greatly from suspension of Steve Smith, David Warner for ball tampering scandal in South Africa. Batting looked depleted outside Australian condition. But they possess the most fearsome fast bowling unit and reasonably good spin attack. It will be Australian fast bowling against Kohli led Indian batting that will dictate the fate of the series. We are not sure at this stage how Australian batsmen would cope with Indian bowling.
Marcus Harris and Peter Handscomb were selected for the first test against India. There are lots of arguments for inclusion which will be ended in the first Test starting on Thursday.
We know about Indian test squad and Australia has just announced its playing XI for the first test staring at Adelaide tomorrow.
1 Aaron Finch, 2 Marcus Harris, 3 Usman Khawaja, 4 Shaun Marsh, 5 Peter Handscomb, 6 Travis Head, 7 Tim Paine (capt & wk), 8 Mitchell Starc, 9 Pat Cummins, 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Josh Hazlewood
1 KL Rahul, 2 M Vijay, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Virat Kohli (capt), 5 Ajinkya Rahane, 6 Rohit Sharma/Hanuma Vihari, 7 Rishabh Pant (wk), 8 R Ashwin, 9 Mohammed Shami, 10 Ishant Sharma, 11 Jasprit Bumrah
It is true that Australian team is now a shadow of its glorious past yet in Australian condition they are always a very tough competitor. The team appears a little bit unbalanced as two of the world class batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner are still serving their suspension term. They have not found good replacement for them specially in contests against strong opposition like India. On the other hand India now posses yet again a very strong batting line up. Captain Virat Kohli is arguably the best batsman capable of winning matches single handed.
Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, C Pujara, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane are all class acts. Top quality youngsters Rishabh Pant and Hanuma Vihari, Vihari gives batting great depth. Perhaps the asset of India now is quality all round attack. Kumar, Shami, Yadav and Bumrah may enjoy bowling on Australian wickets. Kuldeep Yaddav and Ravi Ashwin would take care of the spin attack. Even in the days of great Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman India did not have such a balanced bowling attack.
Australia as said above would suffer with their batting. Aaron Flinch will have Marcus Harris as his opening partner. Flinch himself is not a settled test batsman and Harris will be raw. But so often Australia surprise the world with new players. Tried and tested Usman Khawaja may need to take the role of sheet anchor and similar role will be required for Shaun Marsh. Australian batting would revolve around them. Peter Handsome has forced his way back into the team replacing Mitch Marsh. Travis Head and Tim Paine make the batting order. Australia may need the bowlers Cummins, Starc and Lyon contribute regularly with the bat. If Australia can somehow manage 400 runs, they have very high quality penetrative fast bowling attck to defend. Starc, Cummins and Hazlewood make the best fast bowling combination in the world on pace friendly wickets. Not so much in Adelaide but wickets at Perth and Melbourne will make it extremely challenging to confront Australian attack for the Indians.
In any case the series between the two evenly matched sides is expected witnessing mouthwatering contest.
Number one test playing team India has its final frontier in Australia. Can they win their first ever test series from Australia this time?