The greatly coveted series between India and Australia is right around the corner as the Men in Blue go down under against the Kangaroos. The experts and the odds in India suggest that The Men in Blue are going to be the front-runners in the impending contest and this is a golden opportunity for them to milk away the series in the absence of Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft. If they really want their ages-long record to stand, Australian men will have to treat this series like Ashes, otherwise, this team is bereft of reliable quality and India, on the contrary, have one of their strongest sides in-line to seal the victory.
It’s about time to schedule your meetings accordingly as the action that is about to come could be in the history books — this isn’t an ordinary series, this is India’s greatest chance to put an end to their dreadful record on the Australian soil. Last time when they came this close was back 2003-04 when India was up in the series by 2-1 and Steve Waugh’s memorable knock rained over their hopes.
So, can men in blue do it this time? Let’s find our answers by looking at all the factors that would influence team India’s chances of winning.
Positive – The reliable Bowling attack:
India has given the world of cricket some of the best batsmen for decades. But they’ve always struggled to find a bowling attack they can rely on. Some great players like Anil Kumble, Zaheer Khan have come and gone but the overall impact of India’s bowling has never really shaken any opposition to the core. It’s always been the story of batsmen sealing it for the side.
However, the winds of change have come to India and thanks to IPL, Indian team finally has got some knack of quality bowling in their hands. There’s a brilliant blend of power, class, versatility and experience in Indian bowling. There’s Bumrah’s unorthodox action that generally catches opposition by surprise. Bhuvneshwar Kumar can cause a significant havoc with his ability to swing the ball. He has got a plenty of experience in his bag and he would always be a threat to Australian batsmen any time of the day. The likes of Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami are on their ways of mastering the reverse swinging deliveries while the very-experienced Ishant has a history of troubling the Aussies in the past. So, this time, India genuinely has an energetic bowling prowess in their repertoire and this gives them a great amount of stability in both of aspects of the game.
Negative – The ever-haunting bouncers
Sadly, this is something that has been always been a weight on the minds of the batsmen. It is always anticipated that one ball or the other is going to be a bouncer and Indian men don’t have a sound record of tackling this problem. And Mitchel Stark and Co in the bowling attack will be well aware of this opportunity and won’t miss an opportunity to surprise Indian batsmen by a few threatening bouncers.
Although, it’s no surprise either that Indian batsmen won’t be mentally prepared for this weak corner. Former Australian Skipper Ian Chappell believes Virat Kohli has proved himself worthy of handling the short-pitched deliveries and the technical prowess of Rohit Sharma holds the key to resolve this problem for Kohli’s men. He said, “The Indian top three should be aware that the Australian paceman will be seeking early scalps in order to get the redoubtable Virat Kohli in while the ball is still shiny. This leads to a selection conundrum. Do India bat the dogged Cheteshwar Pujara at three and hope he will wear the quickies down or do they gamble on Rohit Sharma who is technically well-equipped to tackle in the short-pitched stuff aggressively?”
He added, “Kohli showed on the last tour of Australia that he is extremely good at dealing with short-pitched deliveries but it would be of great benefit to provide him with an ally in this confrontation.”
Positive – The Mighty Virat Kohli
Any side would have their confidence high when they’ll have the best batsmen on their side. Virat’s reputation speaks enough of the threat he is for the bowlers. He’s the no.1 batsmen in both Tests and ODIs and ended up scoring 692 runs in eight innings when Men in Blue paid a visit to the land of Kangaroos last time. However, Kohli lacked ample support from his team last time out and consequently, India wasn’t able to win it at that time. But this time, it appears like he has all the talent and resources to exploit the Aussies.
Negative – those outside the off deliveries
It’s how Indian batsmen have failed for years. History has shown how Indian players are easily lured by the deliveries capering outside the off-stump. As they love playing the cover drive, they’re often caught by the bowl kissing the edge of the bat and getting them out. If we track back in the year 2014 when India toured England, Kohli woefully suffered playing such deliveries and James Anderson exploited that vulnerability very-well. However, players grow and Kohli sought motivation from the Master Blaster who wafted such deliveries in the series against Australia and ended up scoring 241 in a remarkable inning. Kohli had a similar approach against England in the recent series they played with India. Kohli finished as the highest run-scorer in that series.
Although, regardless of how well Virat tackled this problem, the idea of getting players out in this fashion would still linger in the Australian bowling attack and it seems to be a harmless tactic to chip-out a few players out of concentration. It’s going to be an exciting mental battle for sure.
Positive – The absenteeism of Warner, Smith and Bancroft
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, this is being tipped as the biggest factor that will play a part in this series and holds the key for the Indian team. Their suspension is due to the repercussion of the ball-tampering incident that took place against South Africa. It could end up giving another blow to the Aussies and hurt their record against India at their soil. India hasn’t got such an opportunity for a long time. This is a situation where you have you put one of the strongest sides of India against one of the weakest sides of Australia. The chances are very fair for Virat’s men. Only time will tell the rest.
Although, former Australian wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist still rules out India as the favourites in the series. Gilchrist suggested things work differently on-paper and on the pitch, and believes the Aussies still have an ample amount of quality in their team to secure their home-record. He said, “I do not think I can say that the Indian team will start as favourites in the Test series because history will tell you that Australia is a very tough place. Some great Indian teams, some great teams from England have come here and they have had limited success,” Gilchrist said. “I do not think I can say that the Indian team will start as favourites in the Test series because history will tell you that Australia is a very tough place. Some great Indian teams, some great teams from England have come here and they have had limited success.”
“Bowling has been Australia’s strength but their batting will be challenged in the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner, and they will have to step up. Like India, Australia to have got a wonderful opportunity and they should enjoy the challenge.”
“The series will be really exciting because no one knows how exactly it is going to go,” he added.
In all fairness, both teams have their vulnerabilities but still, men in blue look like the favourites. Australia are deprived of some quality in their team but they still have the home advantage that has served them pretty well for years. Although, this series looks like their toughest tests in years. Let’s see what this series brings us as these giants lock horns in the month of December.