The Indian cricket team, led by Rohit Sharma, is set to welcome Australia for a highly anticipated four-match Test series, starting Thursday, February 9th, as they compete for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. The series opener will take place at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur.
Whenever these two powerhouses face off, exciting match-ups and individual battles can be expected. However, what makes this Test particularly special is that it also serves as a chance for both teams to secure a spot in the World Test Championship final.
Furthermore, the excitement around the turning tracks in India and the off-field discussions only add to the anticipation, making it impossible for fans to take their eyes off the most intense rivalry.
It’s worth noting that Australia has not had any victories in India since the 2004/05 series and will be eager to break this streak and win the series.
As the first Test approaches, the question on everyone’s mind is how the teams will line up. Will they field a spin-heavy bowling attack? Regardless, the series will likely come down to the spinners and how the batters handle the turning ball on the Indian pitches.
Let’s take a look at the Predicted Indian playing XI to face Australia in the 1st Test –
Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul open the innings
Since being named captain in 2022, Rohit has only played in two matches due to various injuries, making the upcoming Australia series crucial for him to prove himself as India’s red-ball leader, especially with a spot in the WTC Final on the line.
Additionally, this will be the first time he will lead the team against Australia in home Tests, putting his performance as both an opener and captain under close scrutiny.
In his previous Test outing against Bangladesh, KL Rahul’s batting was subpar, with scores of ten and two runs in both innings. However, after taking a break from the sport, the batter is ready to come back strong and make a big impact against a powerhouse team like Australia.
Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Shubman Gill, and KS Bharat form the middle order
Cheteshwar Pujara has established himself as a reliable source of runs for India against Australia on home soil, with 900 runs in 16 innings. Known for his mastery in crafting delicate innings that can turn the tide of a match, Pujara will aim to do just that in the upcoming Test if he earns a spot on the team.
Virat Kohli is just 64 runs away from reaching a monumental milestone in the international cricket arena with 25,000 runs. After a disappointing series in Bangladesh, the batting sensation will be eager to bounce back and score big in this series.
Following his sensational performances in the white-ball series against New Zealand, Shubman Gill appears unstoppable at the moment. He will be eager to replicate that form against the rival team and hungry for runs, just as he was in the white-ball series.
With Rishabh Pant unavailable due to an unfortunate accident, KS Bharat could be a key player to watch in the wicketkeeping department. Bharat caught the attention of fans and selectors alike with his impressive performances in the Ranji Trophy for Andhra, including 205 runs in his last five innings, with scores of 80 and 89 runs, averaging 41.
Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel form the all-rounder duo
After a successful knee surgery that kept him out of action for over five months, star all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja made a remarkable return by taking a seven-wicket haul in a Ranji Trophy match for Saurashtra against Tamil Nadu. Despite facing a challenging opponent in Australia, Jadeja is determined to put up a strong fight in his comeback game for India.
During Jadeja’s absence, Axar Patel stepped up and played a crucial role with both bat and ball. He impressed with his performances against Sri Lanka and New Zealand in the recent series, and India is counting on him as the third spinner in the side. Axar will look to take advantage of the conditions and deliver critical breakthroughs for the team.
Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, and Mohammed Siraj form the bowling attack
Ravichandran Ashwin’s mastery with the spin ball is not the only threat he poses to the Australians. He is also known to play psychological games with his opponents, and the visitors have been preparing themselves to counteract his techniques. To help with their preparation, the Aussies have even brought in Mahesh Pithiya, a 21-year-old with a similar bowling style to Ashwin. Despite the opposition’s efforts, Ashwin is determined to get the wickets and make the game challenging for Australia.
The presence of Mohammed Siraj and Mohammed Shami will greatly benefit the Indian team. Their combination of spin and pace could prove to be a deadly weapon in the upcoming match. Both pacers will aim to curb the opposition’s scoring and disrupt crucial partnerships, ensuring a successful performance for the team.