As the latest assignment of the Indian Premier League (IPL) draws to a close, cricket fans are now keenly awaiting for Indian team’s high-octane tour of Australia to commence. That India in Australia is a much-anticipated series between the two cricket-mad countries, and over the years has drawn much attention and excitement in addition to high-standard of cricket.
Four years ago, Australia were beaten by India 2-1 and the hosts will look to regain the prestigious Border-Gavaskar Trophy in their own backyard.
The tour will include a 14-day quarantine-cum-training period for the team in Sydney, where they will train ahead of the ODI series. It is understood they will start training from November 14 in Sydney. Most of the players have already been living the bio-bubble life for nearly three months now and they’ll be going through its rigours for two more.
Now for starters, the obvious point is that India will miss a batsman of Virat Kohli’s calibre in what promises to be a battle much tougher than the last time around. Australia are likely to have David Warner and Steve Smith back in the XI while Marnus Labuschagne is a batsman reborn since the time India faced him last time.
The Indians would be mindful that even a diluted Australia were no pushovers last time – they won the Perth Test – and on paper at least, they are a far stronger combination this time.
So what can India expect from India in Australia series?
India in Australia: What’s at stake
The tour is scheduled to commence with the three ODIs at the Sydney Cricket Ground (November 27, 29) and Manuka Oval, Canberra (December 2). That will be followed by the three-match T20I series at Manuka Oval, Canberra (December 4) and the SCG (December 6, 8).
After that, India will then begin the defence of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with the pink-ball Test in Adelaide from December 17. It will be followed by Tests at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (December 26), the SCG (January 7) and the Gabba (January 15).
On the last tour it was Cheteshwar Pujara who stubbornly resisted the Australians, eventually wearing them down so other Indian batsmen could prosper. India’s chances for a repeat series victory will depend to a degree on the batting ability of their seniors to take charge against the Australian pacemen on true, bouncy wickets. The inexperienced middle-order could ill-afford to breathe any easier without Kohli around.
Kohli, though, will play in the short-form internationals on India’s tour, which kicks off with a one-day international series starting in Sydney on November 27. India should be fairly confident of a good show in white-ball cricket given their strength in depth. Even in the absence of their regular opening batsman Rohit Sharma, the Men In Blue are firm favourites to nick both the series.
Rohit, who recently led Mumbai Indians to a record-extending fifth Indian Premier League title, has been rested for the limited-overs leg of the Australian tour.
Here we go pic.twitter.com/U7RRi14b1R
— K L Rahul (@klrahul11) November 11, 2020
India in Australia-Border Gavaskar Trophy
In a season of little or no cricket, Indian cricketers seem to have used the IPL to find rhythm and confidence as they landed in Australia. Time and again skipper Kohli and head coach Ravi Shastri have said that Test cricket is the most important format for the team and having an extraordinary record on home turf their aim is to dominate in overseas conditions as well.
Since the turn of the century, India have toured Australia four times, losing in 2007 & 2011, whilst they drew the 2003 series-they created history in 2016 winning the Test series by the margin of 2-1.
The four-match Test series will see India playing their first-ever day-night Test overseas. Adelaide Oval will host the day-night Test. India’s Test specialist Ishant Sharma, who is recovering from an injury will join the squad only after proving his fitness at the National Cricket Academy.
India’s wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha is also recovering from an injury he suffered during the IPL 2020. He has travelled with the team but the BCCI announced earlier that a call on his availability will be taken later.
Given the fast-paced nature of Australian pitches, Jasprit Bumrah is India’s most precious asset, and millions of eyes were glued on how their bowling leader for all formats and conditions would fare; the focus was perhaps more on him than on Virat Kohli. The pace unit of Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav will play a key role if India stands a chance in Australia, and Ishant Sharma’s injury boost should only spur them on to defend the coveted trophy.
Despite restrictions around the Covid-19 pandemic, Cricket Australia had confirmed that crowds of varying degrees will be allowed to attend each of the fixtures between Australia and India.
In what is considered as a marquee tour, Indian batsmen know the Aussie fast bowlers will be thirsting to confront them in white-ball cricket before the Tests after Mitchell Starc and company were heavily criticised in India’s historic first Test series win in 2018. The good news is that the entire white-ball batting unit was in a great knock at the IPL.
Apart from KL Rahul’s sensational form as IPL top-scorer with 670 runs (one century, five fifties), there was Shikhar Dhawan (618, 2 hundreds, four 50s), Mayank Agarwal (424; 1×100, 2×50), Manish Pandey (425), Shreyas Iyer (519; 3x50s), Shubman Gill (440) and power-hitter Sanju Samson (375), all getting plenty of runs.
Dhawan seemed to be fading away from white-ball cricket for India but has used the IPL to demonstrate his newfound robust approach, in batting and fitness.
India, holders of the Border Gavaskar Trophy, created history under Kohli’s captaincy in Australia last time around as they won the Test series: a first in Indian cricket history.
Both sides are known to play tough cricket and to match the on-field aggression, one can only assume that only the strongest will survive and thrive!