Virat Kohli and his No1 ranked Indian team have been pegged as the favourites by many to attain their maiden Test series win on Australian soil.
However, winning a Test series Down Under, despite the hosts missing the services of Steve Smith and David Warner, will not be an easy challenge.
Here, we look at three things India need to do to in order to multiply their chances of a series win.
BATTING SUPPORT FOR KOHLI
India’s batting failed massively in the tour of South Africa and then England, with Kohli the only one to come out with any credit. The India skipper was almost a one-man army in the batting department with the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Murali Vijay flattering to deceive.
In Australia, India cannot afford a similar display from the batting department if they are to win a maiden Test series. While Kohli can be expected to continue his astonishing 2018 form, he will need at least two other batsmen from his side to have a prolific series.
The bowling line-ups of the two sides are more or less evenly matched with Australia having the slight edge. Hence, it will come down to the batsmen on either side to provide the decisive impact.
While Rishabh Pant can be India’s wild card in the batting department, it will really have to be the senior batsmen like Rahane and Pujara who will need to step up big time.
GET ON TOP OF LYON
There was a time when Indian batsmen were feared for their prowess against spin bowling. Not anymore.
The current Indian squad has displayed a vulnerability against spin time and time again, with Moeen Ali’s man-of-the-match display in the Southampton Test being the most recent example.
While India will be definitely put through a rigorous examination by Australia’s fearsome pace trio, how they handle off-spinner Nathan Lyon will have a huge bearing on the series.
The offie was the highest wicket-taker during India’s 2014-15 tour of Australia with 23 scalps in the four matches. He has an excellent record against India and has managed to dismiss Kohli five times previously, the joint most by any bowler in Test cricket.
To top it all, Lyon’s record at the Adelaide Oval (venue for the first Test) is terrific with 37 wickets in his previous appearances.
PACE ATTACK ADAPTING TO AUSSIE PITCHES
India’s pace battery has been getting plenty of rave reviews for the past year or so and many former players and pundits alike have described it as the best in the country’s history.
However, while the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma looked excellent on the swinging pitches of England and South Africa, they will not enjoy the same helpful conditions in Australia.
Pace and bounce has traditionally been the way to go for bowlers in Australia and India could find themselves struggling in that aspect. A lot will depend on how Bhuvneshwar and Shami adapt to the conditions given the fact that they will not enjoy as much seam movement as they would like.
While Ishant can be a threat with his sharp bounce and Bumrah can be effective with his unorthodox action, the swing bowlers will need to show something different if India are to consistently pick up 20 wickets in the four matches.
If the tour match against a Cricket Australia XI was any indication, then there is plenty of work for the bowlers still to do.
While India’s bowlers might have conceded 544 runs in their warm up game against a Cricket Australia XI, batsman Cheteshwar Pujara remains confident that they can do the job in the upcoming four-match Test series against Australia.
India’s pace attack comprising of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami has been touted as one of the very best in the country’s history.
However, the tourists were made to toil in their four-day tour game at Sydney by an inexperienced CA XI batting unit led by Sam Whiteman. Pujara, though, remained unconcerned about the bowling attack going into the series opener at Adelaide.
“The bowlers already had a meeting, and conceding 500 runs in a warm-up game doesn’t mean anything,” the top-order batsman told reporters on Monday.
“It wasn’t a Test match, so we are not worried about it. Our bowlers know what they have to do. I can’t say what their game plan is, but they know what line and lengths to bowl in Australia, and most of them have played here in 2014-15. As a bowling unit, we are very confident,” he continued.
India are chasing a maiden Test series win on Australian soil and have been tagged as the favourites by many due to the fact that the hosts are without Steve Smith and David Warner. The tourists have in tow a bowling unit capable of picking up 20 wickets consistently and have shown that they can perform in overseas conditions during the tours of South Africa and England.
Pujara believes it is one of the best India has ever produced.
“In the last few years, we have produced some quality fast bowlers and even when it comes to bench strength, even if a couple of our fast bowlers are injured, they will have some back-up. When it comes to fast bowling, this is probably one of the best attacks we have in many years,” he said.
India’s bowlers will hope to put their tour game disappointments behind them quickly and hit the ground running when the series opener at the Adelaide Oval gets underway on Thursday.
The 39-year-old had been accused of exposing his genitals to masseuse Leanne Rusell in a series of articles published by Fairfax Media-owned Sydney Morning Herald, The Canberra Times and The Age in 2016.
The alleged incident is said to have taken place in the players’ dressing room during the 2015 ICC World Cup in Sydney.
Gayle had outright denied the allegations when they were published and accused the journalists of attempting to destroy his image.
The Windies stalwart had sued the media group for defamation following the allegations. In October last year, a New South Wales Supreme Court jury had ruled in favour of Gayle and found Fairfax Media to be motivated by malice.
“In light of the jury’s verdict I am required to assess damages on the basis that the allegation of indecent exposure was not true and that the attribution of such conduct was very damaging to Mr Gayle’s reputation,” NSW Supreme Court Justice Lucy McCallum was quoted as saying by the Herald.