Preview: India Vs Australia Test Series 2020
India vs Australia Test Series — this is the moment that all cricket fans were waiting for this year.
Credit to England, cricket is back on track. Since the English summer, we have had the IPL and other leagues, and recently the truncated England vs South Africa and New Zealand vs West Indies series’. Yet, this is the moment that most cricket fans have been waiting for—the Australian Test summer—Boxing Day, New Year’s, and much more.
With the World Test Championship rules changed and the Kiwis sweeping their series against the Windies, India are in danger of losing the Top 2 spot. They defeated the Australians in 2018, but can they repeat their success?
Read till the end to check out our predictions. Let us know who you think will win in the COMMENTS below!
When and Where?
Here are the dates and the venue for the India Vs Australia Test Series.
- 16-20 December, Adelaide, D/N (Pink Ball Test)
- 25-29 December, Melbourne
- 6-10 January, Sydney
- 14-18 January, Brisbane
Also Read: India vs Australia Limited Overs Review, India vs Australia ODI Preview, Series Predictions
India: Top Order Will Make or Break India’s Chances
- India’s most famous recent tours of Australia had top order contributions. Sehwag-Chopra in 2003 & Agarwal-Vihari in 2018 (last two tests). More than number runs, denting the new ball mattered, which laid the platform for the likes of Dravid and Pujara later on.
- Virat Kohli will be on paternity leave after the first test in Adelaide, a place where he has 3 hundreds in six innings including the twin 115-141 during that 2014 match. Can Virat continue his love affair with Adelaide?
- Since his stellar overseas tours of 2014, Rahane has failed to go to the next level. Don’t get me wrong – 65 Tests, 4203 runs at 42.88 average with 11 tons and a best of 188 is still very good. Yet in order for Rahane to elevate to legendary status, he still needs a series like Pujara 2018 or a Laxman 281 kind of knock.
Australia: Injuries Give Australia a Headache
- With injuries to Warner and Pucovski, Matthew Wade and Joe Burns have received the backing from the management. Joe Burns in the last 9 FC innings has scores of 7, 29, 0, 10, 11, 4, 0, 0, 1 – the last 4 against India A. Six years since his debut, he has yet to cement a place despite 4 centuries. Last chance for Joe?
- Labuschagne is one of my favorite players from the recent crop. Ashes 2019 is best remember for Steve Smith’s (and Ben Stokes’) heroics, but Marnus has not looked back since his debut as a concussion substitute. 14 Tests, 1459 runs at an average of 63.43, and 4 tons already with best of 215.
India: India need 2nd Innings Shami In the First Innings
- Shami has been bowling at his best since IPL 2020. In test cricket, he is known for his 2nd innings late spells with reverse swing. Can he deliver up front with early breakthroughs this time?
- India’s weak link will be the 4th bowler. Umesh Yadav has delivered overseas in patches and Saini/Siraj are raw. Who will stand up in the absence of Ishant Sharma?
- Ravichandran Ashwin’s overseas record is not the best and Kuldeep Yadav is waiting in the wings. He will need to make the most of his opportunities and take wickets, not just keep things tight.
Australia: Nathan Lyon The Key
- Along with Ashwin, Nathan Lyon has kept the art of off-spin alive in the 2010s. 10 away from 400 wickets, a lot will rest on his shoulders.
- Australia have won 6 out of 6 Day/Night matches, 3 of them at Adelaide. The key to all of those wins were their fast bowlers. If Starc and Hazlewood make the ball talk early, it would be tough for India to win in the pink ball test.
- Australia may need to rest their fast bowlers given the long tour. Expect James Pattinson to play during the latter test matches.
Key Matchups To Watch Out For
- Ajinkya Rahane Vs The Short Ball: Recall 2014 against Mitchell Johnson – Australia will surely tempt him with aggression and the short ball.
- Tim Paine vs Rishabh Pant: The banter was hilarious during 2014 via the stump mic. Watch out for more such encounters, as well as a couple of game changing knocks from both.
- Pujara and Vihari vs Australian fast bowlers: These two have the potential to tire out the Australian bowling line up.
- Cameron Green: This new young allrounder caught the eye of many in his ODI debut. Can bowl 140+ kph and already has 5 centuries in 21 FC games. If fit, he will definitely make an impact. Mark my words.
The Broken Dream
India: Ishant Sharma
- Ishant just LOVES Australia. His debut series in 2008 is best remembered for outmatching the great Ricky Ponting and was the pillar of the bowling line up in 2018-19. How much will India miss Ishant? How much will Ishant miss cricket? Just 3 away from 300 Test wickets, but has not played a first class game since February before getting injured at the beginning of the IPL.
Australia: Will Pucovski
- After breaking into the squad with wonderful domestic form, it was expected that Pucovski would make his debut. In just 23 first class games, he averages 54.5 with 6 hundreds and best of 255*. Concussion during the India A vs Australia A has unfortunately, delayed his Test debut.
Verdict: 1-1 Draw
Without the Sharmas, Kohli’s early departure, and India’s relatively inexperienced openers, this will not be as easy as 2018. Pujara’s 2018-19 tour was once in a generation, and I doubt it will be repeated (if he gets anywhere close to that form, India surely will be in the drivers seat).
The home team Australia are back with Smith and hopefully Warner later in the tour, but with numerous injuries, a long tour, and bio-bubble fatigue creeping in, Australia are not favorites either. Expect rest for fast bowlers from both teams in a few games.
This is a weird one to predict, isn’t it? Neither team holds an upper hand, but I am hoping for exciting, gritty series. Some attritional cricket, line and length bowling, and maybe even 5th day last session match-saving draws? Hence, I am going for a 1-1 draw.
Which team will give in first?
Let us know your thoughts on the India Vs Australia Test Series. WHAT IS YOUR EVENTUAL SCORELINE? COMMENT BELOW AND LET US KNOW!
My Starting XI:
These are my starting XI for the first Test (assuming everyone is available in terms of COVID and injuries).
India (First 2 Tests):
Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli*, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha (WK), Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammad Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav
India (Last 2 Tests):
Gill/Shaw, Agarwal, Pujara, Vihari, Rahane*, Pant, Saha (WK), Ashwin/Kuldeep, Shami, Bumrah, Saini/Siraj
Joe Burns, Matthew Wade, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Tim Paine* (WK), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc/James Pattinson, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon
These are the other options in the squads. Note, India has 2 squads – for the first 2 and last 2 Tests respectively
India: Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammad Siraj, Rishabh Pant (WK), KL Rahul (WK), Navdeep Saini, Prithvi Shaw
India (after first Test): Virat Kohli (OUT), Ravindra Jadeja (IN – after 1st Test), Rohit Sharma (IN – last 2 Tests)
Australia: Marcus Harris, Moises Henriques, Michael Neser, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner (currently injured but may return)
Image Courtesy: Adelaide Oval – Rajiv Bhuttan, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons