India’s year of trying to conquer overseas challenges has reached Adelaide, Cricinfo reports.
Australia’s year of turmoil has reached their first home Test series since the game was thrown into crisis. No one really knows who starts favorites, but never have India begun a series Down Under with such expectation that this could be their time.
However, that was said about the tours of South Africa and England as well, and both those series went the way of the home side – partly due to a lack of preparation and partly due to some poor selection decisions. India’s warm-up match in Sydney was hardly inspiring as they conceded 544 against the CA XI. They have also lost the hugely talented Prithvi Shaw for at least the first Test. Nothing comes easily in Australia, even when the hosts are beset by their own problems.
It has felt a long build-up to this occasion for Australia – they have played in England, Zimbabwe, the UAE and faced South Africa and India this season in white-ball cricket before this much-anticipated duel. Their bowling attack has survived the turmoil which has cost a multitude of people their jobs, but plenty of questions remain about the batting they have put together for the start of the series.
At home, however, they are rarely dominated. Only South Africa have done it consistently since the days of the great West Indies team. If they can get off to a good start in Adelaide, putting enough runs on the board for the stellar bowling attack, then they could still be tough to stop. India must learn from the tours of South Africa and England – do not give the opposition a head start.
Every time Australia have taken the field since South Africa it has been billed as the new start, but after a lot of limited-overs cricket and a Test series overseas, this feels like their real opportunity to start afresh. This time last year Tim Paine had just returned to Test cricket, now he is captain. What sort of team can he develop? The next six weeks, starting in Adelaide, will tell us a lot. It’s a series that could define both teams.
Out of Australia’s big three, Pat Cummins emerged as the most consistent of the quicks earlier this year – testament to his years of hard work to overcome the injuries that hampered the early parts of his career. He took a largely forgotten career-best nine-wicket match haul in Johannesburg when the focus was on anything but the cricket, and did not feature in the UAE. As with his fellow pacemen, he has been very carefully handled heading into this Test series, so hopefully he is ready to push up the speed gun. Do not ignore his improving lower-order batting, either.
India’s pace attack is the best they have pulled together, but they either don’t have great numbers or haven’t played much in Australia. Jasprit Bumrah falls into the latter category but shapes as a key part of India’s armoury. He made an instant difference to the attack when he came in during the England series, causing particular problems to the left handers, of which Australia have a few. However, many a talented fast bowler has come to Australia and taken too long to adjust to the conditions, especially the lengths required.