The upcoming four match Test series for India against Australia is a hugely anticipated encounter and we make three predictions.
The Indian Premier League (IPL) players’ auction was a distraction but now that it’s done and dusted the players on either side are ready to resume the hostilities.
Steve Smith’s side has an onerous task ahead. No Australian team was able to win a Test match in India since 2004-05. They were whitewashed twice in India and add the recent whitewash in Sri Lanka, you get an inkling of the task at hand for the Kangaroos.
India on the other hand come on the back of a record unbeaten run dominated heavily by a longer home run. Virat Kohli knows only too well that anything but a series win – if not a whitewash – would be acceptable.
Make no mistake, the line-ups on either side is stacked with so many match winners that it’s a shame to zero down on three key players. But we bit the bullet and narrowed down the choices.
Virat Kohli - Top Indian batsman
Arguably the best batsman of this era and inarguably the man in the midst of a pristine form. Kohli is enjoying a great run – both with the bat and captaincy. His runs would be vital for his team’s fortunes and over the last 13 matches he has scored nearly 1500 runs at a staggering average of 81.
Along with the runs, it would be interesting to see how he would control the emotions of his side against an Aussie team which will not be shy of a word. On top of that, he will have to be spot on with decisions on the field. Not easy being Kohli now, but it never has been.
Knowing his appetite for a fight, back Kohli to be the best batsman for the hosts.
Mitchell Starc - Top Australian bowler
A surprise choice in the bowling list for Australia but Starc would be a vital ingredient for Smith’s designs on this tour. His pedigree with reverse swing could be crucial in keeping the Indian batsmen on check.
To his credit, Starc has already done this in their last tour to Sri Lanka where his 24 wickets across three matches was nothing short of brilliant. Injuries robbed him of required momentum but still Starc was able to pick up 52 wickets over the last 12 months. If he starts on the right foot, the Aussies will have an easy time in keeping the Pujaras and Kohlis quiet.
Ravichandran Ashwin - Top Indian bowler
‘The Bradman of spin’ Ashwin would be licking his lips at the sight of spin-weary Aussies. A totle of 61 wickets in the last nine matches at home at a bowling average of less than 25 and 411 runs at a batting average of more than 37 – Ashwin is the go-to-man for Kohli.
In the last series at home against Australia, he picked up 29 wickets at an average of just above 20. For someone who loves scooping man-of-the-series awards, he may well be targeting another.