India vs Australia 1st Test: Preview and Prediction
The wait is over as the prestigious Border-Gavaskar Trophy between the world cricket’s two biggest nations is set to roll out for its 15th edition.
Men in Blues led by captain Rohit Sharma will be challenged by Pat Cummins’ Aussie Army which has currently taken possession of the top-ranked ICC test-playing nation. The high-profile action of the red-ball bilateral series opener between India and Australia will be commencing at Nagpur’s Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium this Thursday.
This is going to be the first big challenge for the Indian skipper Rohit who took over the full-time captaincy of the red-ball side in February 2022 succeeding Virat Kohli. The visiting captain who is prospering an unbeaten record in his Test captaincy stint has been assigned with the responsibility to end the Aussies’ 18-year-old winless run on Indian soil.
The 29-year-old speedster has also given a proper build-up to the fierce battle stating, “If you win in India, it is bigger than an Ashes series.”
The Australian camp has already suffered from two injuries news of their lead pacers Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood right before the commencement. It was already confirmed that Mitchell Starc and Cameron Green won’t be featuring in the opening game while Hazlewood also joins the list of unavailable players with an Achilles injury.
It makes the 33-year-old Scott Boland an obvious choice for selection as he will be seen partnering with Cummins in the Kangaroo pace attack.
The duo of captain Rohit Sharma and coach Rahul Dravid has already cleared it in the press conference that KL Rahul won’t be keeping the wickets. Rishabh Pant’s absence behind the wickets is likely to be filled by the Andhra wicket-keeper Srikar Bharat who is waiting for his debut international cap from the last three years. Meanwhile, Suryakumar Yadav who is also lining up for his debut will have to wait furthermore for his maiden appearance in Indian Whites.
What have they done so far?
India’s most recent appearance in the longest format of international cricket came in December 2022 when they travelled to their neighboring country to face the Bangla Tigers. The two-match series consummated with the visitors enforcing a whitewashing conquest over Bangladesh to end the year on a triumphant note.
After registering a massive victory in the opening game, India faced a tough challenge in the following Mirpur Test but somehow managed to get away with a three-wicket win on the fourth day.
On the other hand, Australia has greater momentum than the hosts after featuring in five Test matches in the last two months and keeping an unbeaten record. The Kangaroos hosted South Africa in a three-match series at home and went on to register a thumping triumph by 2-0.
The Aussies who are currently seated right at the top of the World Test Championship table just need to avoid a whitewash outcome in order to book their berth for the 2021-2023 WTC Final.
Head to Head record
The head-to-head record of this legendary rivalry currently favors the side of Australia with a scoreline of 43-30 while 28 encounters between them resulted in draws and one clash ended in a tie outcome.
The Men in Blue are thriving on an unbeaten run since 2015 and have conquested three Border-Gavaskar trophies in a row. Rohit Sharma and the boys are now eying to convert this hat-trick into a successive quadruple which is yet to be achieved by any side in the history of the India vs Australia Test saga.
The most recent chapter of the BGT was a memorable one as the underdogs from India not only breached the fortress of Gabba but also pulled off one of the greatest comebacks the world cricket has ever seen.
The series commenced with chaos for the visitors as their painful 36 all-out at Adelaide was followed by the departure of Virat Kohli to his homeland. However, the stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane stepped up and took the devasted side to a miraculous feat amidst the all obstacles.
Australia’s BGT campaign of 2016-17 still stands as the toughest home series for Team India since their resurgence to the top in the red-ball format. The heroics of skipper Smith and Steve O’Keefe stunned the Pune crowd to hand over a 333-run defeat to the hosts.
India recovered from the early heartbreak in no time and emerged victorious twice in the following three games to trample down the Aussie revolt.
Steve Smith: The 33-year-old stylish stroke-maker always gets his form on the back whenever he is going to face the Indian side. He topped the run-scoring charts of the South Africa Test series fetching 231 runs.
Smith also smashed two consecutive centuries in the recently concluded Big Bash League edition. When the last time Aussies arrived on Indian soil in whites, Smith took the stage by storm and conquered the Pune fortress.
Ravichandran Ashwin: To counter Steve Smith, India is blessed with a spin-bowling maestro who has outwitted many of the legendary batters on subcontinent pitches in his magnificent Test career.
The Chennai-born spin wizard has scalped an incredible total of 50 wickets from 8 home games played against this particular opponent. Ashwin was the priority target for the Australian team management as we also saw the visiting batters making hard preparations to face him at the speculated turning wicket of Nagpur.
Predicted Playing XI
India: Rohit Sharma (C), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Srikar Bharat (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammad Shami, Mohammad Siraj
Australia: Usman Khawaja, David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Alex Carey (wk), Travis Head, Matt Renshaw, Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins (C), Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland
As the track record of Nagpur wicket indicates, this pitch is going to be heaven for the spin wizards and the action will be dominated by spinners of both sides. Hence, it is going to be quite hard for the willow holders to stay long on the battlefield, especially after the first two days.
That is where the most important aspect of playing in home conditions comes in and brightens up the winning chances of India granting them the favorites status.