The much anticipated India-Australia series gets under way in the sub-continent with the first Test match being played in Chennai. The rivalry acquired a new meaning altogether after the epic 2001 battle at Eden Gardens, which will forever be talked about when India-Australia series are discussed.
The Australians have confirmed their XI. Moises Henriques gets a place in the side, becoming the 432nd Test cricketer for Australia to do so. With only one specialist spinner in Nathan Lyon, an all-out pace attack comprising of James Pattinson, Peter Siddle and Mitchell Starc will shoulder most of the bowling attack responsibilities. The reliance on pace and possible reverse swing with the old ball seems to be the Australian strategy to counter the Indian battling line-up.
The batsmen on the other hand have tried their hand at some aggressive batting against the Indian spinners and this might be the tactic to unsettle the three or four-pronged spin attack. It might be a good ploy to ensure that the spinners don’t get the upper hand on dry and dusty tracks and continue to keep the attacking fields. A lot will depend on who draws first blood. As England have shown that the current Indian team is not only beatable, but can be comprehensively outplayed even in the own backyard. The Australian team also comes into India after a confidence-boosting home series win over Sri Lanka.
India, on the other hand have tinkered with their opening slot by dropping Gautam Gambhir. They are also gambling on Harbhajan regaining his lost magic, and in the hope that the offie will pick himself up against his old rivals. Pragyan Ojha and Ravichandran Ashwin were not as impressive as they need to be against England.
As things stand, it looks like Aussie pace machine versus the Indian spin doctors. The contrasting styles should liven up series.
Batting is India’s biggest worry. Middle-order has just not looked the part ever since Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman retired. Everything seems to hinge on how Cheteshwar Pujara anchors the innings, with everyone playing a supporting role around him, including Sachin Tendulkar. The batting has been very defensive, which resulted in the English spinners getting an upper hand. The Australian bowlers will be aggressive and a defensive counter may just not work.
The Aussies have fired the first salvo by announcing their eleven two days prior to the start of the Chennai Test. It will be interesting to see India’s squad in response.
(Dhananjay Devasper is an “IT guy” by profession and a sports fanatic at heart. He has an unbridled passion for sports and Indian achievements in sport. Extremely opinionated, he attempts offering perspectives around sports which are simple to understand and easy to relate with)