One of the most important Test series of the year, between India and Australia for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, is in progress in India these days. The series is equally important for both sides as they vie for the ICC top spot.
India have not lost any of their last 19 Tests and are now seeking their seventh successive series win. They have not lost a Test match since 2015, when they lost to Sri Lanka in Galle. At home, India last lost a Test against England in 2012.
Australia currently trail India by 12 ratings points in the official ICC Test team rankings and should win by at least a 3-0 margin to surpass India and reclaim the top spot. But, if Australia could not compete with Sri Lanka, how will they face India? With conditions favouring India, the Aussies can only hope for draws. If Australia draw or win any Test in the series it will be a great success because they are an inexperienced bunch.
Australia’s last trip to India came in 2013 and ended in a disaster as they lost 4-0. They, however, defeated India 2-0 when the latter visited Australia in 2014-15.
Steve Smith and Virat Kohli made their captaincy debut in the same series, on India’s last trip to Australia. Both have guided their teams to the top position, but Smith & company faced 0-3 whitewash in Sri Lanka which showed their weakness against quality spin.
Smith has said that he learnt quite a lot playing in Sri Lanka and now knows how to go about things in the subcontinent.
Kohli has been in outstanding form. He has scored 1457 runs in the last 13 Tests, averaging over 80.
Kohli has scored four double-centuries in last four Test series, surpassing Sir Don Bradman and Rahul Dravid who scored double tons in three successive series. Kohli is the first captain to score three double hundreds in a season.
The formidable Indian batting also has Murali Vijay, K L Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, and Ajinkya Rahane, capable of piling up mountains of runs on their home soil.
The other major challenge that Australia will face is the spin bowling of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, who currently top the ICC bowling rankings. Last time when Australia played a Test series in India in 2013, Ashwin and Jadeja took 53 wickets.
Australia have the strongest cricket system in the world that produces quality cricketers regularly. For years the rest of the world tried and failed to beat Australia, in both Tests and ODIs. But times have changed since the retirement of Ricky Ponting, Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist.
Smith has accepted that the Australians are the underdogs in this series and that Australia may need a miracle to win in India. But Smith has an excellent record against India. He has scored hundreds in his last four Tests against India; scored 930 runs in six Tests with four centuries and three fifties.
Before the ongoing Test, 90 Test matches had been played between the two countries. Australia have a clear edge with 40 wins. India remained successful on 24 occasions. One match was tied.
India’s 705-7 at Sydney in January 2004 is the highest innings total in their bilateral series.
Australia’s best is 674 that they scored at Adelaide way back in January 1948.
On the Indian soil, Aussies’ highest innings total is 577, which they managed in October 2008 in Delhi.
India were bowled out for 58 in Brisbane in 1947, the lowest total. Australia’s lowest is 83, recorded in Melbourne in February 1981.
Sachin Tendulkar is India’s highest run scorer against Australia. He scored 3,630, averaging 55, including 11 centuries and 16 fifties.
Former Australian skipper Ponting is their most successful batsman against India with 2,555 runs, scored at an average of 54.36. He hit eight hundred and 12 fifties.
Former Indian captain and current Head Coach Anil Kumble is the most successful bowler in bilateral series. He took as many as 111 Aussie wickets, averaging 30.32. Fast bowler Brett Lee took 53 for Australia, at an average of 31.98.
Surprisingly former spin magician Shane Warne was not much impressive against India. He managed only 43 wickets in 14 matches at a high average of 47.18. His career average is 25.41.
Nathan Lyon has been much more successful than Warne. He took 45 wickets against India in only 10 Tests, at an average of 36.71.