in-1st-TestHistorically, Australia and West Indies have enjoyed some of the most intense contests but at the moment, the Caribbean side are probably going through their worst phase in cricket. Recently they missed the qualification berth of International Cricket Council (ICC) Champions Trophy 2017 and then lost the Test and One-Day International (ODI) series in Sri Lanka. The Australia tour will be the toughest assignment for a young Jason Holder, who earlier this year lost a Test series at home against the same opposition. A lot has changed for Australia in the last few months as six of their top players have retired in the recent months including former captain Michael Clarke. Australia have begun their new era under Steven Smith but the depleted West Indian side, which lost the tour match to Cricket Australia XI, are unlikely to pose any serious threat. Ahead of the 1st Test at Hobart, Suvajit Mustafi looks at five key battles. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Australia vs West Indies, 1st Test at Hobart

Steve Smith vs Jason Holder: The clash between the two young captains will be exciting to watch. Smith is in the form of his life while Holder is trying to bind a bunch of talented cricketers into a unit. Smith s wicket will certainly be the most prized one for West Indies and as his opposite number will try his best to effect that. The green surface at Hobart should excite Holder and he will look to trouble Smith with the extra bounce.

Nathan Lyon vs Darren Bravo: Lyon will become the first off-spinner from Australia to have played 50 Tests, so that s a big achievement. He hasn t really fired off late. Being an off-spinner, Lyon will target the left-handed Bravo, spinning it away from him. He got him twice earlier this year and wouldn t mind to get better of him again. Bravo plays spin relatively well and if he gets going West Indies will stand a chance to pose a big total. He will look forward to dominate Lyon and it should be a good contest.

David Warner vs Jerome Taylor: On current form, Warner is one of the best batsmen in the world. He has been scoring runs everywhere and will be the biggest threat for West Indies. The rate at which he scores takes the game away from the opposition. Despite West Indies disappointing year, Taylor has emerged as one of the best performers. He has picked up 26 wickets at just over 23. Earlier this year, when the sides met Taylor dismissed Warner three out of four times and the pacer will surely draw much confidence from that.

Peter Siddle vs Marlon Samuels: Exactly 15 years back, Samuels made his Test debut in Australia. A lot has changed since then and Samuels hasn t evolved as the world cricket expected. Still as the senior-most player, he will hold the key as we know how dangerous he can be one his day. On the other hand, Siddle too is a veteran and is fighting hard to cement a place in the side. It should be a good battle between these two senior players and lot of it will be mental.

Shaun Marsh vs Devendra Bishoo: Playing in the middle-order, Marsh will face a lot of spin from Bishoo. He is expected to play Bishoo better as he is a left-hander. Marsh is only filling in for Usman Khawaja and will still be under pressure to perform in an attempt to hold onto his place and Bishoo will like to take advantage of that and apply some pressure.

(Suvajit Mustafi consumes cricket for lunch, fiction for dinner and munches numerous other snacks throughout the day. Yes, a jack of several trades, all Suvajit dreamt of was being India s World Cup winning skipper but ended up being a sports writer, author, screenwriter, director, copywriter, graphic designer, sports marketer , strategist, entrepreneur, philosopher and traveller. Donning so many hats, it s cricket which gives him the ultimate high and where he finds solace. He can be followed at @RibsGully and rivu7)