The battle between two powerhouses of cricket – India and Australia, is always an interesting and fiercely contested affair. India’s last tour down under was marked by the emergence of two of the finest batsmen of the modern generation – Virat Kohli and Steve Smith. Now, both of them are the captains of their respective teams, it is going to be a top contest which will see both teams will look to impose their dominance over the other.
India Team News
India have not lost a single test series since January 2015 and in this period they have decimated Sri Lanka and West Indies in their own backyard while a similar treatment was meted out to the touring parties of South Africa, New Zealand, England and Bangladesh. They have now extended their unbeaten streak in tests to 19 matches. The biggest positive for them in their recent success are their fast bowlers who have chipped away with wickets at regular intervals sharing the burden of their spin colleagues.
Australia Team News
Australia had a horrible start to their summer this season, losing two consecutive tests and inprocess the series to the touring party of South Africa which resulted in as many as six changes in the squad for the final test in Adelaide. Since then, the new look Australian team has continuously grown in confidence defeating South Africa in the final test at Adelaide and handing Pakistan a 3-0 beating earlier this year.
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) February 20, 2017
India vs Australia Key Players
Virat Kohli: With his new found love for double hundreds and the penchant to bat for a long time, he is a real threat to Australia’s plan of replicating the 2004 success. Kohli amassed 1215 runs from 12 tests last year at an average of 75.93 and then following it up with another double hundred against Bangladesh in a one-off Test.
Ravichandran Ashwin: The ICC Cricketer of the Year had a phenomenal run in 2016 both with the bat and the bowl. The No.1 Allrounder in the world scalped 72 wickets in 12 Tests which included eight fifers and three ten wicket hauls besides scoring 612 runs from 14 innings, including two centuries and four fifties. Australia have a daunting task ahead to cope with the guiles of Ashwin.
Steve Smith: The Australian Captain scored a total of 1079 runs last year at an impressive average of 71.93 which included four centuries. He had an excellent series against Pakistan and with the ability to use his feet against the spin, it is crucial for India to get him early otherwise he can take the game away from India’s grasp.
Mitchell Starc: Despite the sub-continent pitches being branded as a paradise for spinners, Australia believe that Starc holds the key for them, especially because of his ability to reverse the ball. He did a brilliant job in Sri Lanka last year where he took 24 wickets in 3 Tests. Australia will be expecting him to do a similar job against India.
The Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) ground at Pune is going to host its first ever Test match. Though the pitch here is not known for run-fests, barring the first IND vs ENG ODI, but is generally good for batting initially as the experiences from Ranji Trophy tell us.
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) February 21, 2017
There might be assistance for seamers in the beginning but spinners will come into picture as the game progresses and can expect some grip from the surface.
Stats Round Up
– Australia have won only four series in India, with the last one coming way back in 2004.
– Virat Kohli, at 895 rating points, can go past Sachin Tendulkar’s highest tally of 898 while Sunil Gavaskar’s 916 and Steve Smith’s 933 are also in his reach.
– R Ashwin, with 1850 runs, needs another 150 runs to complete 2000 runs in Test Cricket.
– With his unbeaten streak of 19 matches as captain, Virat Kohli needs to play 3 more tests without a defeat to equal Ponting’s Streak of 22 matches with Clive Lloyd leading the list with 26 matches without a defeat.
India vs Australia: Date, Time and Venue
Date: 23-27 February 2017
Venue: Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) Ground, Pune, Maharashtra.
India vs Australia 1st test Probable XI
India: Virat Kohli (capt), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Abhinav Mukund, Karun Nair, Hardik Pandya, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, KL Rahul, Wriddhiman Saha, Ishant Sharma, M Vijay, Jayant Yadav, Umesh Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav
Australia: David Warner, Matt Renshaw, Usman Khawaja, Steven Smith(c), Peter Handscomb, Steve O'Keefe, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Jackson Bird, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Swepson, Ashton Agar, Matthew Wade, Mitchell Marsh, Mitchell Starc.