India’s tour of Australia 2020-21 is now set for the real Test – Tests. With the four-match Test series getting underway. The first one at Adelaide Oval a Day/ Night encounter from December 17 – 21. The second Test in Melbourne from December 26-30 . The third Test at Sydney January 7 -11 and the fourth and final Test at Brisbane from January 15-19. The last time Virat Kohli and his men came in 2018-19 it won the series 2-1. While India will be hoping to repeat their last tour heroics, the Aussies would be hungry to take revenge this time around.
And the Border- Gavaskar Trophy is poised to witness a fascinating contest. Both the teams have a lot to play for in the series and lot to prove.
Indian cricket team skipper and batting mainstay Virat Kohli will fly back to India after the first Test to be with Bollywood actress wife Anushka Sharma for the birth of their first child. Kohli’s absence would be a big Test for India. It will be acid Test fro vice- captain Ajinkya Rahane who will lead India in the three Tests. Rahane has lost his place in the ODI and T20 squads and the these Tests more with Kohli’s absence gives him a great opportunity to showcase his captaincy skills and his batting with the responsibility as skipper. Rahane has had an ordinary IPL 2020. So his form will be a worry for India.
There is no Shikhar Dhawan in the Tests, It gives the likes of Mayank Agarwal who will be the first choice as opener and it is up for the management to choose between , Prithvi Shaw and Shubhman Gill who will partner Mayank in this huge series. Shaw too has found runs hard to come by and had a poor IPL 2020. Cheteshwar Pujara was the ‘Rock’ of the Indian batting in the last tour with 521 runs in Three Tests and three tons. Indian fans would be hoping for a similar effort this time around. Hanuma Vihari has shown the potential to succeed at the top level and in the longer format. The pressure will be on him to live up to the expectations.
One headache Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri have is whom to pick as wicket-keeper? The flamboyant aggressive Rishabh pant or the cool clam ability of Wriddhiman Saha. ant has lost his place ion ODI and T20 squads. And he has no one but himself to blame. MSK Prasad led selectors gave Pant chances in all formats but Pant messed up despite hundreds in Australia and England In Tests. Saha after injury has returned with a bang in IPL 2020 and scored at quick pace too with the bat and was safe behind the stumps. This attribute gives Saha edge over Pant.
In bowling India have their tasks cut out in the absence of the skipper of the pace attack the experianced Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The onus will be on the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami. On big Australian grounds taking 20 Australian wickets will be challenge.
Australia on the other hand are happy with Steve Smith back. The prolific Smith’s performance at the last Ashes in 2019 against England was sensational. Smith finished with 774 runs from the 4 matches he played in. He has had hit two-back-to-back hundreds against India in the ODI series . So he likes the Indian bowling. Will he make a difference only time will tell. There was lot of talk of India winning last time around since there was no Steve Smith. Like Smith explosive opener David Warner was not around too last time . Warner will miss the first Test due to injury but will be back for the remaining matches . His presence is a big boost to the Aussie batting. Warner’s absence form the top was felt in the recent ODI and T20 series by the Aussies. Besides the duo of Warner and Smith there is huge buzz about the talent the likes of Marnus Labuschagne, Cameron Green possess. Skipper Tim Paine with his cool clam approach captained the side well in the Ashes series of 2019 and is expected to lead the same way. If he wins this series he might stay on as skipper or might be replaced as he is not getting younger at 36.
Aussie selectors rotated their A- Line bowlers in the ODI and T20 series . But for the Test there seems to be no complacency and the top guns are back . Vice captain Pat Cummins leading the attack supported by the likes of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazelwood, James Pattinson. And the spin duo of Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Swepson.
There are clashes that fans could look up to : Marnus Labuschagne vs Cheteshwar Pujara, Pat Cummins vs Jasprit Bumrah, Nathan Lyon vs Ravichandran Ashwin, Mitchell Starc vs Mohammed Shami.
One rivalry that fans would miss dearly will be Virat Kohli vs Steve Smith. It would have been fascinating to watch two of the modern day greats battle against each other. Kohli’s absence after the first Test is big blow to the much awaited face-off.
Moreover ,the line-up of both the sides raise prospects of a engrossing and – fought series. And when the world is battling the covid pandemic a fascinating series will lift the gloom and bring around cheer all-around. If this is achieved then it would be fantastic. So let the action begin with the pink ball.
India: Virat Kohli (captain), Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vc), Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravichandra Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav.
Australia: Tim Paine (captain & wicketkeeper), Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade.