Australia’s bid to reclaim the Border-Gavaskar trophy begins on Thursday at the Adelaide Oval.
The Australian’s welcome India for the four test series starting with a day-night test match.
India won the trophy in 2018/19 when claiming a 2-1 series win over the Australian’s, mainly thanks to Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara.
Pujara proved the immovable object and Kohli the irresistible force, mix that with India’s greatest ever pace attack and they were primed to claim their first series win in Australia.
However, this time around they only have the services of their inspirational captain for the first test, as Kohli will return home for the birth of his first child and miss the remainder of the summer.
India bat much deeper than just Kohli and Pujara, but there will be no one capable of replacing Kohli both with the bat and in the field. No one has the energy and presence to lift their team as well as Kohli can.
Australia have their own issues with the bat. A month ago the Australian selectors had an abundance of openers to pick from and now they may have to move someone from the middle order to face the new rock.
Joe Burns is averaging under 7 runs this season, while David Warner and Will Pucovski have been ruled out of Adelaide through injury.
With Cameron Green making his debut, most likely batting at 6, and Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith and Travis Head all locked in at 3,4 and 5 respectively, it seems Matthew Wade may be the man to open the batting alongside either Burns or Marcus Harris.
Green is a lock to debut so long as he passes concussion protocols after being struck in the head when bowling for Australia A.
Both Warner and Pucovski are expected to be right for the second test, which would make Adelaide make or break for Burns and/or Harris, where Wade would most likely find a place in the middle-to-lower order should Australia not need Green’s bowling.
India will prepare to welcome Rohit Sharma back into the fold after he missed the white ball games, while young star Prithvi Shaw missed the last tour of Australia through injury and will provide a new challenge to an Australian bowling attack that failed to contain the Indians two years ago.
Australia will regain Steve Smith and Warner (when fit), as the duo were serving their lengthy suspensions when India last toured and Smith has hinted that he believes the result may have been different had he and Warner been playing.
Smith had a superb Ashes series when returning from suspension, however his summer last season wasn’t stellar as New Zealand peppered the former skipper with short pitched bowling.
While there is a theory that the short ball is Smith’s kryptonite, he had no issues with it in the ODI series, hitting back-to-back 62 ball hundreds.
India are well equipped to take the 60 Australian wickets to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, however with Kohli departing after the first test and the returns of Smith and Warner it seems the tables may have turned substantially in Australia’s favour.
Australia are yet to lose a day-night test match and have hardly been troubled when using the pink ball, while in contrast India have never played a test match under lights in Australia.
There’s no counting India out but there seems to be more advantages in the Australian camp now then there was in 2018/19, the scales seem firmly tipped in the hosts favour.
Prediction: Australia win series 3-0