Can India win the Test in Australia? Well, before giving an answer it would be better if certain aspects are looked into. There are plenty of factors that could go against India in the ensuing Test series. To start with, India’s record in Australia is less than great. Till date, it has lost majority of the Tests it has played there – the last time it visited the Australian shores the result was an emphatic 4-0 in favour of the hosts. The only time India was able to leave undefeated was during 2003-04 when it almost won the series but for Steve Waugh’s fantastic rearguard at the final Test in Sydney.
Secondly, the conditions are not going to be in favour of India. The four Tests of the series will be held at Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. During the last series, India lost the Perth Test in rather humiliating fashion and this time around there is no game there. Indian batsmen have always found Perth’s pace and bounce a bit too much to handle even though the team won a Test over there during the 2007-08 series.
Practice games at Adelaide
However, Brisbane would not be much different from Perth. While not as fast, the pitch is still pretty hard and bouncy. The only way to encounter the conditions would be to play watchfully in the initial hours and then express oneself as soon as one is set. Adelaide and Sydney are batting wickets that help spinners – Indian players will like these conditions and if they happen to play well enough they could even win the Tests on these grounds. Melbourne is a good batting wicket as well but offers more pace and bounce, which could go against Indian batsmen.
India is playing a couple of practice games at Adelaide but unfortunately the quality of opposition leaves a lot to be desired. The Cricket Australia XI in both the games has not been made up of cricketers who are on the cusp of breaking into the Australian team but young cricketers with a lot of promise as well as some players who are even yet to play first class cricket – this could hardly be regarded as ideal preparation. Perhaps, the next time India visits Australia or any other country for that matter it should ask for better players in the preparatory matches.
Apart from that, the Australian team is now going through a purple patch of sorts. It has recently defeated South Africa decisively in the recently concluded T20 and One Day series. While it lost the Test series in UAE against Pakistan the conditions will be much different. In their home conditions they will be looking to put the ghosts of UAE behind them. From a point of view of personnel they have a fantastic assembly of fast bowlers so much so that they can rotate players in that department and the strength will not be affected even one bit.
Kohli takes over for the first Test
India, on the other hand, will be coming off a crushing series victory against Sri Lanka. Even taking into account the hostile conditions the momentum and the general atmosphere of positivity within the team will play an important role in this tour. They will also need to make the side matches count and earn decisive victories if they can. The team could very well benefit from the change of guard with Kohli taking over for the first Test. He has already shown himself to be a successful and ruthless captain in the One Day games and will now look to bring the same attitude to the Test team as well.
The team also has plenty of fire power in terms of quick bowling with all the five members capable of performing well in those conditions. The role of Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron will be much crucial in this context. The spinners will need to play an important role as well – it needs to be kept in mind that Aussies are more vulnerable to spinners than they are to quick bowlers. They need to be extremely accurate and not give anything away. If they can achieve that then the pace bowlers will have some pressure with which they can make the Aussies take a false shot or two. It is also important to keep as calm a head as possible and not get into a verbal joust with Aussies and perform in a rash manner later on.