The Australian cricket team is set to take on India in a highly anticipated four-match Test series, as they aim to end their 19-year drought of not having won a Test series in India. Despite their recent dominance in Test cricket, the Pat Cummins-led side will face a formidable challenge in India.
The Australian team has been hit with several setbacks ahead of the first Test in Nagpur, with two of their premier fast bowlers, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, ruled out of the match and young sensation Cameron Green unlikely to play. Additionally, the Aussies are not familiar with playing on spin-friendly tracks, putting their batsmen in a vulnerable position if India opts to play three spinners in Nagpur.
In the last edition of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, the Australian team suffered a heartbreaking loss to India, who pulled off a historic win at the fortress Gabba despite being depleted. This time around, the Aussies are more determined and motivated to turn things around, especially considering that pride is on the line.
Despite the challenges ahead, the Australian team can take comfort in their quality, as they currently sit at the top of the ICC Test team rankings. With an abundance of talent, the Pat Cummins-led side has the potential to make history and secure a Test series win in India for the first time in 19 years.
Let’s talk about the predicted Australian Playing XI to face India for the 1st Test Match in the upcoming series –
David Warner and Usman Khawaja open the innings
Usman Khawaja, recently named the Shane Warne Men’s Test Player of the Year, will be put to the test against India’s spin attack. Although Khawaja is known for his batting against spin, India presents a different challenge. In his four Tests against India, he has only managed to score 198 runs at an average of 28.28. He will be determined to make a mark in his first Test in India.
David Warner, on the other hand, brings a wealth of experience to the team when it comes to playing against India. The opener is a match-winner for Australia, but his form has been a concern in Test cricket, as he has fallen prey to spin bowling on several occasions. Despite this, his quality cannot be discounted, and he has the potential to be a decisive factor in the upcoming Test series. His scintillating double century against South Africa in the Melbourne Cricket Ground in his last Test series is a testament to his ability.
Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Peter Handscomb, and Alex Carey form the middle order
Marnus Labuschagne will embark on his first Test tour to India, eager and mentally prepared for the challenge. Although he lacks experience playing on spin-friendly tracks, he will have the responsibility, along with Steve Smith, to play a significant number of balls and score crucial runs for the visiting team.
The Indian bowlers should be cautious of Smith, who has had great success against India in the past. In his six Test matches in India, he has 660 runs to his name, showcasing his incredible talent and ability to excel in these conditions. However, his main challenge will come from Ravichandran Ashwin, who dominated him in the previous edition.
Peter Handscomb is likely to fill in for the injured Cameron Green in the starting XI. He has played 16 Tests for Australia, scoring 934 runs at an average of 38.91. As with any other Australian batter, he will be tested by India’s spin attack, and it remains to be seen if he can rise to the occasion and help Australia win the Test series.
Wicketkeeper-batter Alex Carey has played 15 Tests for Australia and has 633 runs to his name, with an average of 39.56. In addition to batting against spinners, he must excel as a wicketkeeper, which he recognizes will be a tough challenge in India.
Travis Head and Pat Cummins form the all-rounder duo
Travis Head is a player with the potential to both help and harm Australia in the upcoming series with his counter-attacking style of batting. He will be expected to play pivotal innings to rescue the team from tricky situations. So far, he has played 33 Test matches for Australia, scoring 2126 runs at an average of 45.23.
Captain Pat Cummins has been a key figure in the Australian Test team’s success. However, his true test will come in India and the upcoming Ashes in England, where he not only needs to excel with the bat and ball but also mentally. He has a total of 214 wickets in 47 Test matches and has also contributed with 884 runs in the longest format of the game. With the absence of pace bowlers Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, Pat will be relied upon as Australia’s main pace option.
Todd Murphy, Nathan Lyon, and Scott Boland for the bowling attack
The debut of Scott Boland in the Test arena against England in 2021 was impressive, as he disrupted the English side with his accurate deliveries and movement off the pitch. However, the conditions in India will prove to be a challenge for the 33-year-old, making it difficult for him to find success in the series.
There were initial thoughts of Ashton Agar serving as Nathan Lyon’s partner in the first Test, but captain Pat Cummins hinted that the untested Todd Murphy, an off-spinner, may receive his debut on February 9th. With just 29 wickets in seven first-class games, Murphy will be under a great deal of pressure as a Test series in India is no easy feat.
Nathan Lyon, on the other hand, will be Australia’s key player in the series. The success of the team heavily relies on his abilities, and he is not easily affected by pressure. His calm demeanor will be an advantage for the team in the upcoming Border-Gavaskar Trophy. With 115 Test matches under his belt and 460 wickets, and 34 wickets in seven matches in India, he is poised to be Australia’s most crucial player in the series.