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Thursday, 21 February 2013

Preview: India vs Australia – 1st Test, Chennai



MS-Dhoni-Michael-Clarke-IND-vs-AUS-Test-Series-2013
What
The first Test of the 2013 Border-Gavaskar Trophy
When
February 22 to 26, 2013
Where
The M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai
The Teams
India
Team India have played fair bit of limited overs cricket since their 1-2 home Test series loss against England. But the scars of the Test defeat will be fresh in their hearts and they will be determined to repair their damaged home record. The intent was shown when the selectors and team management took some tough decisions ahead of this series by dropping Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh. It’s a message to all the players – seniors and juniors alike – that they need to pull up their socks.
In all probability, Murali Vijay will pip Shikhar Dhawan to the post as Virender Sehwag’s opening partner. The question as far as India’s combination is concerned is over the number of specialist spinners they will play in Chennai and hence, who between Ajinkya Rahane and Ravindra Jadeja will get the nod. If MS Dhoni decides to play all three of his spinners, Rahane is likely to make his Test debut. But if Ishant Sharma gets a pace-partner, Jadeja’s predictable yet effective left-arm-spinners will be summoned.
Australia
This is perhaps, the most inexperienced Australian team to play a Test series in India. And like their hosts, are coping with the retirement of two stalwarts – Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey. When it comes to a young team, it is best to play by the side’s strength rather than trying to suit the conditions. That’s exactly what the Aussies have done by going in with three fast bowlers, a pace all-rounder and the lone spinner on a Chepauk track which is expected to turn. It might just prove to be the right recipe against the Indian batsmen who prefer spin to pace. With young and fit quicks like Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson, the Indians can expect some unnerving chin music even on a relatively low surface. However, with Nathan Lyon being the only spin option, Clarke might be in a fix if the pitch starts turning prodigiously.
By getting Shane Watson to man the middle-order along with Michael Clarke, the Aussies have brought about a good balance in their batting line-up. However, as England showed a few months back, it’s imperative for at least one of the openers to play a long innings. David Warner and Ed Cowan have been doing a great job since the last year or so and will have to step a notch higher in these challenging conditions.
Key Players
India
Sachin Tendulkar looked a shadow of himself in India’s last two home Test series. But anyone who watched him score the unbeaten 140 in the Irani Cup earlier this month would tell that the touch is well and truly back. With his team reeling under the pressure of recent defeats, expect the phoenix to rise and produce something special.
Harbhajan Singh will be determined to give his career a second wind against the opposition he dominated in 2001 to make his mark in Test cricket. Australia have often brought out the best in the feisty off-spinner and he will fancy his chances against the relatively inexperienced batting line-up this series. The off-spinner will play his 100th Test tomorrow.
Australia
While all the limelight will be on the young, tearaway quicks, there will be one man in Australia’s bowling attack who will quietly bend his back all day in the Chennai heat. Peter Siddle is a warhorse that Michael Clarke would be delighted to have on the Indian tracks. He might not necessarily pick heaps of wickets but Siddle’s ability to keep going all day and occupying one end relentlessly will help his younger bowling colleagues strike.
Shane Watson takes special delight in dominating the bowlers in the subcontinent. While he has been unequivocal about his desire to open the innings, Watson, for all his experience of playing in India – six Tests, 16 ODIs and all the IPL games for Rajasthan Royals – you can expect him to fire from any position.
Trivia
    • Sachin Tendulkar alone has scored more Test runs against Australia than the entire current Australian squad has scored against India- 3438 vs 2934
    • Only four players of the current Australian squad have played a Test on the Indian soil – Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle.
    • Harbhajan Singh will become only the second off-spinner to appear in 100 Tests after Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan, who played in 133 Tests.  
Stats
1. Average first innings score at MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai: 
Overall – 331
Since 2000- 303
2. Average second innings score at MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai: 
Overall – 335
Since 2000- 372
3.Result summary at MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai:
Matches
Won by side batting 1st
Won by side batting 2nd
Tied
Drawn
Overall
10
8
1
11
Since 2000
0
3
0
3
4. Head-to-head:
Matches
Played
Ind won
Aus won
Tied
Drawn
Overall
82
20
38
1
23
In India
42
15
12
1
14
At Chennai
6
2
1
1
2
5. Last meeting between both sides at MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai:
Brief scores: October 14-18, 2004
Australia (235 & 369) India (376 & 19-0). Match drawn
6. Form guide (most recent listed first):
India: Drawn, Lost, Lost, Won, Won (2 wins, 2 losses)
Australia: Won, Won, Won, Lost, Drawn (3 wins, 1 loss)
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