Australia in India 2008-09 October 7, 2008

Batting and spin give India the edge

Stats preview of the four-Test series between India and Australia

Over the last seven years, there's been little to separate India and Australia in Tests. In four series since 2001, India have won one and lost two, but each team has won at least one Test in all series. Australia achieved a comprehensive victory the last time they toured, and the 2-1 result ensures they maintain a slight edge in terms of their win-loss record in India. The other aspect which stands out is that in seven Tests between the two teams in India since 2001, only one has been drawn, and even that was due to the inclement Chennai weather, which washed out the entire last day and ruined a match which would surely have ended decisively otherwise.

India v Australia over the years
Period Played Ind won Aus won Draw/ tie
Overall 72 16 34 21/ 1
In India 36 11 12 12/ 1
Since 2001 15 5 6 4/ 0
In India, since 2001 7 3 3 1/ 0

On paper, India start as favourites, thanks primarily to their batsmen and spinners. Of the five specialist batsmen who have played more than one home Test against Australia, only Sourav Ganguly has a sub-40 average. Similarly, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh have fantastic home records against Australia: Kumble's 59 wickets have cost him 20.86 runs each with six five-wicket hauls in eight Tests, while Harbhajan has taken 55 in seven Tests at 21.54

Indian batsmen versus Australia at home
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Sachin Tendulkar 9 830 51.87 3/ 4
VVS Laxman 9 742 46.37 1/ 5
Virender Sehwag 4 299 42.71 1/ 1
Rahul Dravid 11 768 42.66 1/ 5
Sourav Ganguly 9 383 27.35 0/ 2

Among the Australian batsmen, Matthew Hayden and Michael Clarke have tackled Indian conditions superbly, but the same can't be said of their captain. For Ricky Ponting, this will be a huge opportunity to set right a gaping hole in his career stats - 172 runs in eight Tests, at an average of 12.28.

Australian batsmen in India
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Matthew Hayden 7 793 61.00 2/ 3
Michael Clarke 4 400 57.14 1/ 2
Simon Katich 4 276 39.42 0/ 2
Ricky Ponting 8 172 12.28 0/ 1

Head-to-head battles

Australia's wafer-thin spin attack puts the onus of wicket-taking on the fast bowlers, and how the Indians tackle the pace and swing of Brett Lee will probably be a huge factor in the outcome of the series. While Lee has a pretty good record against India - 45 wickets at 26.71 - the Indian top order has handled him pretty well. Virender Sehwag averages nearly 80 against him, while Dravid has good numbers against him too. The only specialist batsman who has struggled is VVS Laxman, who has fallen to him five times in 231 deliveries. (All head-to-head numbers are only since 2002.)

Indian batsmen v Brett Lee since 2002
Batsman Runs Balls Dismissals Average Runs per over
Virender Sehwag 157 214 2 78.50 4.40
Rahul Dravid 114 284 2 57.00 2.40
Sourav Ganguly 117 135 3 39.00 5.20
Sachin Tendulkar 180 328 5 36.00 3.29
VVS Laxman 115 231 5 23.00 2.98
Mahendra Singh Dhoni 38 109 2 19.00 2.09

Australia's batsmen will be up against the twin threat of Kumble and Harbhajan, and while most of them have impressive numbers against both, those runs were mostly scored in the last two series in Australia. (Remember, these stats don't include the 2001 series, when Harbhajan took 32 wickets.) In conditions more favourable to spin, both bowlers are likely to be a much bigger force.

Australian batsmen v Anil Kumble since 2002
Batsman Runs Balls Dismissals Average Runs per over
Michael Hussey 127 204 1 127.00 3.73
Ricky Ponting 247 473 4 61.75 3.13
Matthew Hayden 234 348 5 46.80 4.03
Michael Clarke 239 400 6 39.83 3.58
Simon Katich 212 347 6 35.33 3.66
Phil Jaques 36 81 4 9.00 2.66

Australian batsmen v Harbhajan Singh since 2002
Batsman Runs Balls Dismissals Average Runs per over
Michael Hussey 63 164 0 - 2.30
Phil Jaques 40 80 0 - 3.00
Simon Katich 70 167 1 70.00 2.51
Michael Clarke 128 263 2 64.00 2.92
Matthew Hayden 183 297 5 36.60 3.69
Ricky Ponting 87 138 3 29.00 3.78

The toss factor

Over the two most recent series, the toss has been a vital aspect: the last six decisive results have all gone in favour of the team winning the toss. Australia called correctly in Bangalore and Nagpur on their previous tour, and in Melbourne and Sydney last season, while India won the toss in Mumbai and Perth. The last time a team won the toss and lost the Test was in the Boxing Day Test of 2003, when India won the toss and batted, but lost by nine wickets.

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo