The first Test match between India and Australia will begin from Thursday, February 23 and Shruti Chopra and Suneer Chowdhary discuss the two teams’ chances and preview the game for the World Cricket Chat.
India’s recent form against the three touring sides, New Zealand, England and Bangladesh was excellent, winning eight of the nine Tests they played apart from the the 19-match unbeaten Test run. Having seen team India do really so this home season, what do the cards say? How will they start off in this series?
India’s batting in the first innings is aggressive but they also know when to consolidate – and that’s probably something the the middle order may need to do, to just stay put and not give in. The bowlers maintain consistency and control – there will small patches where Australia’s batsmen may appear dominating, but those seem short lived. But..but.. but.. fielding does not seem up to scratch, and then, strangely.. towards the end, it could almost be flawless – as if nothing was ever wrong.
Interesting call on that middle-order consolidation. India’s opening record recently hasn’t been the best. During this winning run, India have had 26 100-run stands and only one of them by their openers. 72 stands of 50 or more and just six of them coming of the bat openers.
How middle-order has had to consolidate apart from the inconsistencies at the top of the order because of injuries having played a big part. Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Gautam Gambhir, Cheteshwar Pujara…even Parthiv Patel, all have been tried recently and now we have a new opener in the Indian squad in Abhinav Mukund. Might not play but a strong indicator how that’s a hole India will like to plug.
Moving on to the second half of the Indian innings, what is your take on that?
If there were any visible chinks in India’s armour, the second innings should see those reduce. Good individual scores, good partnerships, tight balanced bowling, alert fielding – it’ll all be there. In fact, if, for any reason, the lower order need to contribute, they’ll do as nicely as they have done all season. So a good strong second half for India.. and I just wish to add.. this strength comes from the fact that Virat Kohli will assess what is happening and be quick on his feet to make changes – he won’t shy away from it.
That’s how it has been with Virat Kohli. Four double-centuries in four successive series starting with the West Indies tour and in three of those four series, he has topped the batting charts for India – no surprises there I would say. And speaking of the lower-order, India have been rather well-served by the likes of R Ashwin, Jadeja and Saha, not to mention Jayant Yadav. Since January 1, 2015, Ashwin averages 33, Jadeja averages 37 and Saha averages 36 with the bat…change that period to the last 14 months and these averages are 43, 45 and 52 respectively…could just be very tough times ahead for the Australian bowlers.
Speaking of whom, what kind of a threat do the Aussies pose going into this first Test?
Australia pose to be more of a challenge than a threat – we should see them fight this through – they’re not a team that will give up, in fact it’s similar to what you said in our preview for this series that you would not “underestimate a team like Australia” – and looking at the cards, I wouldn’t either.
Can never underestimate a side that has the likes of David Warner, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, all of whom are proven match-winners despite the obviously different conditions for them from those back home. Warner did not have a great time with the bat the last time he was in India for a Test series but it was Smith’s efforts in the 2013 that turned his career around and he has raced past the 60-run mark as far as his average is concerned. And then there’s Shaun Marsh who has done exceedingly well in Asia, albeit having played just one series in Sri Lanka and scored nearly 400 runs.
Despite all this, what do think will differentiate both teams..?
It’s consistency. Australia will show promise with the bat in both innings but following it through will be tough. The same goes for their bowling too – it’s their hesitance that could get the better of them. They will need to tinker with their strategies as it appears to me that Steven Smith will try and implement multiple plans at the same time – a little calm, a little reflection could see Australia give India a run for their money.
Smith’s captaincy has been the cynosure of many an Aussie fans’ eyes, especially after those two defeats at the hands of Sri Lanka away and South Africa at home and more particularly as a result of his handling of Nathan Lyon. India is a tough place to lead at best of times but given the baggage that Smith brings in that respect, it will be interesting to see how he goes…
This doesn’t seem to be an easy match for India – ..Australia won’t just disintegrate.. it’s still Tarot Advantage India – but expect Australia to compete.