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.
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