Ind Vs Aus 1st Test – Preview
Australia ready for Indian Juggernaut
India has won 17 and drawn three off their last 20 tests at home. In the past decade, Australia has played ten Tests in India, losing eight and drawing the rest.
The young captain Kohli has truly led from the front by notching up four double hundreds, averaging over 80 with 1457 runs in the last 13 Tests. R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, the top two bowlers in the ICC rankings have worked in pairs. Off-spinner Ashwin has grabbed 78 wickets in 13 games during the same period with 8 five-fors at an average of just over 24 while left-armer Jadeja has scalped 49 wickets in 10 Tests at just under 25.
The spin twins, who combined forces to rout New Zealand and England, again pose a major threat to the Australians. The lower-order batting has often helped the team come out of tricky situations and score big with Ashwin supporting with the bat in every game.
And their win-loss record over the last 20 Tests, both home and away, is 15-1. This is the sort of challenge the Australians face as they go into the series opener at the Maharashtra Cricket Association stadium on a pitch that will turn from day one.
Australia have not won a Test – let alone a series – in India since 2004-05 when they defeated the hosts 2-1. Since then they lost 2-0 twice in four-game series and were whitewashed 4-0 on their last visit in 2012-13. But the Aussies have been preparing hard.
Jayant Yadav could be back into the XI, who starred with both bat and ball in the three Tests he played against England – scoring a century from No. 9 in Mumbai. M Vijay and KL Rahul have now opened together 12 times, and they average 18.91 with a highest partnership of 52. Both have made runs individually throughout the season, but their inability to keep the new ball at check and not expose the middle order early on.
For Australia Matt Renshaw made 184 in his last Test innings, looks likely to get the nod ahead of Usman Khawaja, whose past record in Asia is not inspiring.
Smith and Peter Handscomb will join the Marsh brothers in the middle order. Shaun Marsh’s experience of Indian conditions gives him an opportunity o resurrect a career of more than five years with only 19 test caps..
On its previous tour of India in 2013, Australia struggled to keep the runs down, as India rattled along at 3.72 to the over. MS Dhoni set the tone with an epic double-century in Chennai, and the likes of Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara and Shikhar Dhawan then piled on the misery.
The very fact that Australia was even considering a third spinner, at the expense of Josh Hazlewood, suggested too much focus on spin. Nathan Lyon and Steve O’Keefe took a fair bit of punishment in the tour game, and Australia’s best hope remains the new-ball pairing of Starc and Hazlewood, both of whom are capable of an impact with the softer ball as well.
They will be tasked with halting the march of a line-up that has crossed 600 in each of its last three tests. Virat Kohli alone has made 1206 runs in the ongoing home season. Away assignments don’t come much tougher than this for a team and its Australia who love to take on the challenge.
Teams (probable xi)
India: M Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (capt), Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jayant Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav.
Australia: David Warner, Matt Renshaw, Steve Smith (capt), Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Mitchell Marsh, Matthew Wade (wk), Steve O’Keefe, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.