After a period of extended T20I action, the attention once again shifts back to Test cricket with as many as three series between major sides set to get underway in the coming days.
INDIA V BANGLADESH
While the T20 series between the two sides turned out to be a hard-fought affair, it should be a different matter in the Test clashes with India currently on a roll in home conditions.
Virat Kohli’s men were imperious in their recent 3-0 dismantling of South Africa which gave them a world-record 11th home Test series win on the bounce.
That marauding form does not augur well for the visiting Bangladesh who were recently stunned by Afghanistan in a one-off Test in Chattogram.
To compound matters for the Tigers, they will have to take on India without their star all-rounder – Shakib Al Hasan – who is serving a one-year suspension from all forms of cricket.
The series will also see both teams play their maiden day-night Test which will begin at the iconic Eden Gardens on November 22. That novelty should be the major highlight of a series which is expected to end in a lopsided victory for the hosts.
India and Bangladesh have met nine times previously in the Test format with the Men in Blue winning seven of them, while two matches have ended in a draw.
Prediction: India 2-0 Bangladesh
AUSTRALIA V PAKISTAN
Misbah-ul-Haq’s first Test challenge as Pakistan head coach and chief selector begins Down Under, after a T20 series where his side were comprehensively beaten (2-0).
Veteran Azhar Ali, who will captain Pakistan, has his task cut out against an Aussie side who have started to regain some of their old vigour.
Tim Paine’s men are fresh off the back of their Ashes exploits in England, where they managed to retain the historic urn and will be the heavy favourites to dominate Pakistan in home conditions.
Steve Smith was in stellar form on his Australia Test return in the Ashes, and the No1 ranked batsman will be hungry for more runs and centuries in what will be his first red-ball appearance on home soil since the infamous ball-tampering saga.
At the other end, No1 ranked Pat Cummins leads a formidable bowling unit which could prove too powerful for Pakistan’s batsmen.
This series too, features a day-night Test at Adelaide and that should add further spice to the contest.
Pakistan have arrived on Australian shores with a young bowling unit in tow but they need their experienced batsmen to stand tall if they are to have any chance of avoiding defeat.
If Babar Azam can translate his white-ball form into Tests, it will make things much easier for Pakistan.
Prediction: Australia 2-0 Pakistan
NEW ZEALAND V ENGLAND
This could very well be the most evenly contested battle of all three Test series, with the No2 ranked New Zealand taking on an England side ranked just one spot below them.
Two Super Over defeats at the hands of England might have left a bitter taste for the Blackcaps, though they now have a splendid opportunity to give the visitors some payback of their own.
James Anderson once again misses out for England due to injury and his mastery of the swinging ball will be dearly missed on the juicy pitches of New Zealand.
The two-match series will definitely pose a significant inquisition for Chris Silverwood’s credentials as the new England coach bids to turnaround the team’s dwindling fortunes in red-ball cricket.
Arresting England’s penchant for dramatic batting collapses will be Silverwood’s biggest priority and he will hope his rookie batsmen such as Dominic Sibley and Zak Crawley can provide the magic.
The hosts, meanwhile, do have one major headache leading into the series with skipper and top-order stalwart Kane Williamson nursing a minor hip injury.
Prediction: New Zealand 1-0 England
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