First Test of the four-match series between India and Australia
December 9 to 13, 2014
It has been a somber week and a half wherein the willow and the leather have taken a quiet backseat after the tragic death of Australia batsman Phil Hughes. On any other day or a point in time of a high profile India-Australia Test series, talks would surround fighting fire with fire, sweet chin music, mind games and personal battles to combat. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Situations and consequences are such that teams are fighting a battle within themselves to take the field for starters, leave alone playing a Test match. But as the age old cliché goes, ‘the show must go on’ and so it shall as India and Australia kick-start the 2014 Border-Gavaskar Trophy series at the Adelaide Oval on Tuesday.
In the build-up to the first Test, India has managed to play two practice games. The pacers did the bulk of the damage on both occasions and the batsmen strived hard to acclimatise themselves to hard and bouncy wickets. A number of Indian batsmen got to half centuries in the tour games and this could well serve as a confidence booster for them. But, one cannot term such preparations as ‘ideal’ or ‘perfect’ - a good day out on the field before sterner Tests to come for sure. India haven’t played a Test match since the tour of England and they are in for a rigorous month and a half of cricket in whites. Virat Kohli will lead India in the first Test with Dhoni expected to be fit from the next Test onwards. Also, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar being ruled out of the first two Tests, India are expected to go in with Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami and Varun Aaron as their frontline pacers. Can India numb the emotions of the week gone by; losses of the past tour and shift their focus on the series in hand? The answers as they look to start their tour on a high Adelaide onwards. Can India numb the emotions of the week gone by; losses of the past tour and shift their focus on the series in hand? The answers as they look to start their tour on a high Adelaide onwards.
These are tough times being a cricketer. Visuals of Australia captain Michael Clarke breaking down while delivering his eulogy at Phillip Hughes’ funeral are still fresh in everyone’s mind. It was a day when the cricket world bid adieu to their beloved son, friend and teammate. Quite naturally these are not situations to counter before the start of a marquee Test series, but Australia have that mountainous task of doing so. Cricket Australia Chief Executive James Sutherland had said earlier that it will be up to individual players whether they would feel ready for the first Test.
It is quite natural that players would take their own time to come out of such an incident that has left them with a lot of heartbreak. But, Ryan Harris for starters is confident of putting the incident back and focusing on the job at hand. There could be two ways of looking at the series opener for Australia. Either they come out ruthless against India or display a confident dented side of theirs which is very un-Australian and unlike.
Australia do have a lot of mental battles to be won and thoughts to be channelised before they take the field but one can expect them to display their true self come Tuesday. Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle and a Mitchell Johnson snaring down the Indian batsmen’s throats would be quite a sight. Expect an enticing contest between these two sides; first stop - Adelaide.
Varun Aaron shone bright on both occasions in the warm-up game picking up seven wickets. Aaron was fast and created quite a flutter in the opposition batting with his line and length and fiery bouncers which won a clap from the sidelines from his stand-in captain Virat Kohli. One aspect of his bowling that Aaron needs to work on is his tendency to get wayward and bowl no-balls. In the second tour game, he bowled as many as five no-balls in the match which don't make for good reading. Aaron has troubled the batsmen in the tour games but he would know that it would be a different ball game altogether when he bowls against a strong Aussie batting line-up with better caliber. Australia
When it comes to Australia and fast bowling, you cannot help but think about Mitchell Johnson. The last time India toured Australia, Mitchell Johnson was ruled out of the Test series due to an injury. His services were not missed though, as the rest of the Aussie pace attack created havoc in the Indian batting line-up. A new look Indian side would now be looking at a refreshed and rejuvenated Johnson this time around. Expect Johnson to leave no stone unturned with the red cherry in his hand. Stat-Attack
2. Result summary at Adelaide:
Won by side batting 1st
Won by side batting 2nd
3. Average first innings score at Adelaide: Overall- 389
Since 2000 - 463
4. Average second innings score at Adelaide:
Overall - 361
Since 2000 - 431
5. Last meeting between both sides at Adelaide:
Brief scores: Jan 24-28, 2012 Australia 604-7d & 167-5d India 272 & 201
Australia won by 298 runs.
6. Form guide (most recent listed first):
India: Lost, Lost, Lost, Won, Drawn
Australia: Lost, Lost, Won, Lost, Won
7. Pace vs Spin at Adelaide (who has been more effective)
MS Dhoni has maintained a clean slate in Tests against Australia as a captain- on Indian soil he has won all eight, in Australia he has lost all three!
India have never beaten Australia after putting them into bat first after winning the toss. Of the 10 such instances, India lost five and drew remaining five.
Against India, Michael Clarke averages 40.50 in India and 78.50 in Australia
Kohli will become the 32nd man to captain India in a Test
Clarke has a remarkable record at Adelaide Oval, where in nine Tests he has scored 1279 runs at 98.38, including six centuries
Australia begin the series ranked second and India sixth in Tests; India could drop to seventh if they lose 3-0 or 4-0