India, Australia ready for tough Tests

India will finally get down to serious by starting their Test series against Australia in Adelaide Oval on Tuesday.

India will finally get down to serious by starting their Test series against Australia in Adelaide Oval on Tuesday.  


No let up in aggression despite the sombre mood say the teams as the series begins

The Christmas spirit is vibrant in most parts of the city. But the mood at the Adelaide Oval was sombre here on Monday.

The tragic demise of Phillip Hughes has jolted all those connected with the game and beyond.

As the first Test of the Border-Gavaskar series gets underway here on Tuesday in South Australia, Hughes’s adopted State, the departed cricketer will be in everyone’s thoughts and minds.

In a tribute to Hughes by his teammates, the late cricketer has been named the 13th member of the squad. He will be Australia’s inspiration in the Test.

A 63-second silence — Hughes was on 63 when struck that fatal blow — will be observed ahead of the match. A video encapsulating the life of the cricketer will be played on the giant screen. And both teams will wear black arm bands.

The Australian cricketers will also wear shirts with Hughes’s Test cap number 408 inscribed on them.

Australia captain Michael Clarke, emotionally distraught after Hughes’s death, has picked himself up to pass the fitness test for his hamstring.

Virat Kohli will lead India; Mahendra Singh Dhoni has still not recovered fully from a broken thumb. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who might have been valuable with his ability to move the ball early on, is most likely to sit out with an ankle injury.

The drop-in pitch — there is always an element of unpredictability about surfaces of this nature — here should provide assistance to pacemen on day one.

Curator Damian Hough, however, said the surface could deteriorate to encourage spinners on days four and five after being good for batting in the middle period. There might be some reward for the side that backs itself to bat first.

In the last Test played at this venue, Australia crushed England by 218 runs. Mitchell Johnson’s destructive seven for 40 in the England first innings is considered among the most hostile spells of the modern era.

While Peter Siddle, with his speed and late movement, and Ryan Harris, with his work on the ball and vicious two-way cut, will demand attention, Johnson presents the foremost challenge to a young Indian batting line-up.

It was the combination of red-hot speed and awkward lift that enabled Johnson instil fear in the English batsmen, and he is unlikely to forsake those methods.

The indications are, despite a short-pitched delivery causing Hughes’s sad death, the pacemen will not shy away from sending down bouncers.

The Indian batsmen will be probed both technically and mentally. So much about taking on Australia ‘Down Under’ relates to the mind. Cricket is bound to be aggressive.

In M. Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane, India has batsmen with some ability. Can they back that up with the sort of toughness that is central to survival in Australia?

India’s pace pack of Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron — the three should team up — can crank up speed. However, the key will be to build pressure with control while bowling to the likes of David Warner.

R. Ashwin could come into play in the later stages but needs to get his body alignment right to impart more revolutions and extract greater bounce.

Shane Watson will return to the No.3 slot but this Australian line-up can be vulnerable if the skipper does not contribute substantially.

While much focus will be on Aussie pacemen, off-spinner Nathan Lyon could exploit Johnson’s footmarks as the Test progresses.

The teams:

Australia: M. Clarke (capt.), C. Rogers, D. Warner, S. Watson, S. Smith, M. Marsh, B. Haddin, M. Johnson, R. Harris, P. Siddle, N. Lyon.

India: (from): V. Kohli (capt.), M Vijay, S. Dhawan, C. Pujara, A. Rahane, Rohit Sharma, W. Saha, R. Ashwin, V. Aaron, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, M. Shami, S. Raina, Bhuvneshwar. Kumar, Karn Sharma, R. Jadeja, K.L. Rahul, N. Ojha.

Match starts at 5.30 a.m. IST.

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Printable version | Jan 30, 2020 1:32:25 AM |

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