India take on Australia in a four-match Test series starting on February 23 and Shruti Chopra spoke with Suneer Chowdhary and Nishad Pai Vaidya in this guest special podcast. In this they analyse the two squads and how will the two teams go in this series.
On whether Australia have a chance in the series against India:
When you are looking at a battle between the number one and the number two Test side, it’s quite possible that Australia could surprise a lot of us and win a Test match but India not only start favourites to win the series but also to win it convincingly. The one thing stopping India from completing a whitewash is the weather but more importantly, it could be the pitches. Even if the curators roll out the kind of surfaces that were on display during the England series, India should win the series but it enhances Australia’s chances of winning a game, something they might find difficult on hard-core turners.
On sledging and mind-games:
Haven’t we heard that before, even before an India-Australia series has started…sledging, mind -games, mental disintegration and what not. Indian team till before Sourav Ganguly took over as the skipper of the side were prone to falling away at the mere mention of such tactics, especially while touring but this is a different generation and a different team under a captain who possesses mental toughness and some…
Look recently, Steve Waugh called Ravi Ashwin the Don Bradman of bowling – I would say Kohli is the Steve Waugh of mental toughness in this day and age. He might undergo a poor run of form one day, but like we saw what happened after the England series, his mental toughness will help him come out of his quicker than most and by extension I doubt these sledging tactics will work too much on someone like Kohli.
Whether Australia would have learnt from the Sri Lanka series:
One hopes Australia would have learnt a lot from that series. To be fair to Australia, they had their chances in that Sri Lanka series – in at least two of those Tests, they could have pushed them…in fact in the first Test, they bowled Sri Lanka out for 117, they managed to get a lead of 86 they before having the hosts down to 86 for four in their second innings – and then allowed Sri Lanka to get away to 353 in the end.
A win in that game could have given them the confidence and the momentum to pull things around in their favour in Asia, instead they were walloped 3-0. Australia will do well to grab those chances when they get them in this series.
Australia’s squad & its changes:
Australia’s changes were some time coming. That series defeat in Sri Lanka could have led to those changes but the selectors decided to treat it as a one-off but when Australia went 2-0 down to South Africa as well, they were left with no choices.
Fortunately for the selectors, the likes of Matt Renshaw, who will be opening with David Warner and Peter Handscomb, who took over from Adam Voges and now averages 99.75 after four Tests, have taken to Test cricket like a duck to water…it will be a huge transition for them to play in the sub-continent but it cannot get any worse than what happened in Sri Lanka. I would also like to see if Australia go in with leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson or left-arm spinning all-rounder Ashton Agar in their lineup or make place for Glenn Maxwell…
India’s playing XI:
Unless there are injuries, I have my doubts the Indian batting will be any different but when it comes to the bowling, I am quite certain there will be at least one change – unless the surface is green and expected to bounce, cannot expect India to play three seamers in the entire series. Bhuvneshwar Kumar might have to sit out in that case and the big question is who will make it to the XI in his place – there’s Jayant Yadav waiting to take back the third spinner’s slot after having recovered from his injury and then there’s Kuldeep Yadav, as you said, is bit of a left-field selection.
He is a left-arm chinaman bowler which, by itself, gives him a huge advantage – I remember what Dutch chinaman bowler Michael Rippon had once told me, “as a chinaman bowler, you don’t need to practice a lot of variety because you are already different, you need to practice control…”, plus I also think the Indian selectors watched Sri Lankan chinaman bowler Lakshan Sandakan bowl at the Aussies during that series last year and know they can unleash Kuldeep if the situation so demands.
India v Australia Prediction for the Test series:
India will win the series and if the weather remains good, I am going ahead with a 3-1 scoreline in favour of the hosts. As I earlier said, we are looking at the second-ranked side in Australia and a four-game series gives them enough time to adapt to these conditions, and besides I am not sure all pitches will be as tough to bat on as was the case during the South Africa series in 2015.