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Australia in India 2012-13

A modern rivalry looks to new heroes

Both teams are in transition, but while Australia have a solid recent record, India need a series win to confirm they can compete against top sides

Sharda Ugra

February 21, 2013

Comments: 118 | Text size: A | A

Cheteshwar Pujara got past 100 for the second time in the series, India v England, 2nd Test, Mumbai, 1st day, November 23, 2012
With several marquee names having bid adieu on both sides, the spotlight will be on youngsters like Cheteshwar Pujara © BCCI

The India v Australia rivalry, all heat, dust, noise and light is a terrific thing. What is often forgotten is that it is a very modern marvel, sort of like the mobile phone. While technological innovation is not its parent, the intensity and frequency of India v Australia does not stem from any rich, historical tradition, like the Ashes or India v Pakistan.

India v Australia in loop arose from administrative foresight. Until the institution of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in 1996-97, India and Australia had played 50 Tests in 47 years. Since then, including the forthcoming series it will be 36 Tests in 17 years.

Once Jolimont wised up to the fact that TV rights earnings around Indian cricket were about to send cash registers into overdrive, India and Australia formed a friendship which, even if hardly beautiful on a few occasions, has remained most fruitful.

For that though, a generation of cricketers must be thanked. They happened, in curious synchronicity, to be among the greatest cricketers produced by either country. Chart toppers in the record books, significant figures in their nation's cricketing history, cavaliers and round heads, wizards and workmen, aristocrats and rogues. Who created, out of an economic prophesy, a 21st century sporting rivalry that has transfixed millions.

When Michael Clarke and MS Dhoni walk out to toss on Friday in Chennai, they know that their dressing rooms are now titan-less. A smattering of figures remain on either side but without the combined force of the entire cast, the teams stand weakened.

Yet, this is neither tragedy nor disaster, merely cricket's natural order moving on its natural course. It is why this '13 series (ouch, not the most fortuitous of numbers) contains two sub-plots: a tussle between teams in transition and the attempt by a new generation to renew and re-energise the rivalry.

While India and Australia will essentially be running into each other over the next few weeks, as teams they cannot be considered to be on the same plane. Australia would like to think they are on their way up and India must show the world that at least they have solid footing on their own ground. Winning will be the only proof for India. The only doomsday for Australia would be a complete wipe-out. Like we said, not on the same plane.

Of these two "teams in transition," one has had a recent series record that reads 0-4, 2-0, 0-4, 2-0, 1-2, ten defeats in 17 Tests. In their last five series, the other's record reads, 1-1, 4-0, 2-0, 0-1, 3-0, two defeats in 15 Tests. One of the two is transitioning fine, the other suffering from frequent palpitations.

Two days before the Chennai Test, Australia threw down all their cards, naming their eleven and talking about attacking India's under-pressure spinners. India's wagons were tightly circled but even Sunil Gavaskar was jokingly heard at the Pataudi Memorial lecture calling for some extra slices of luck for the Indians. "As they need it a bit more than the Australians do. The Australians have been winning while the Indians have not."

Along with luck, the least India need is a calamity-proof plan because in terms of the experience and quality at their disposal at the moment, Australia are far from an all-bases-covered England. India's plans against England included not offering them any spinners in practice matches and calling for a fizzing turner in Mumbai. It was the kind of message whose messengers ask to be shot.

Some common sense against Australia. The first two practice matches had spinners causing a minor flutter through the Australian ranks, even though their best batsman and its team's central figure, captain Clarke, played no part in either.

What works in India's favour is the fact that the series is being played in the latter half of the home season, where the wickets are far more tired and worn than they were when England came touring.

The return of Harbhajan Singh into this series is totemic. He has been, for a while now, India v Australia on two legs. His selection though has been made in the hope that along with him, his prime form will return too.

In an Indian dressing room environment of excess 'cool' even in repeated defeat, it must be remembered Harbhajan can be the most obvious heat-generator in the series. Yet, Australia's new batsmen carry no baggage vis-a-vis Harbhajan and understand that the first two Tests is the most chance he is going to get. If playing three spinners on the go does not work in Chennai or Hyderabad, one will surely have to be jettisoned in time for Mohali.

Harbhajan will need a stack of wickets to stick around, particularly given that the Indian selectors are constantly under instructions to pursue a 'youth policy' (the reason behind ignoring Wasim Jaffer from the two Tests).

As much as the role of the Indian spinners has been spotlighted, the response of India's batsmen to Australia's medium pacers will tell us more. The use of swing with pure pace even on knee-nuzzler Indian wickets hurries and rattles batsmen, particularly the less assured. The last four-man pace attack to win a Test series in India was South Africa 2000: with a combination of Donald, Pollock, Kallis with Cronje/Klusener/Hayward and Nicky Boje in support.

As Siddle, Pattinson, Starc and Henriques try to bear up to the load of bowling in India, they will reveal much about India's batting too.

It is not about finding out whether Virender Sehwag and his new glasses have it in them to put in a few more years opening for India (it would be nice to know, though). Or whether Sachin Tendulkar can produce an innings of final remembrance in what could well be his last Test series in India.

Seasons in the not so distant future are not going to contain Tendulkar and Sehwag. The series against Australia will prove as to whether they will contain the names that crowd the playing eleven today. Like Cheteshwar Pujara's capability to play spin is not in doubt, but his instinctive and beloved pull shot against the quick men will get another working over. The answer that will be sought from Virat Kohli is not about his ability to play the flamboyant drives over extra cover, but whether he is capable of reining himself in.

On the Australian side, they are energised by David Warner opening the innings, but Phil Hughes, slotted in the No. 3, averages under 37 after 20 Tests. Ed Cowan enjoyed a decent turn out in the three-day match versus India-A, but is still on the look-out for a career-defining series. What the rivalry needs - and indeed is ideally set up for - is a fresh new name to drive it.

At its epic height, India versus Australia has always ended up representative of 'all or nothing' for both sides. This time things appear slightly more even-tempered. But maybe this is merely before the first ball is bowled.

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by TontonZolaMoukoko on (February 22, 2013, 9:17 GMT)

__PK - Cronje and Klusener may not have been that quick but Hayward was rapid. And why does Harbhajan constantly get selected? It's as if he's still living off 2001 when the Aussies come into town, Ojha is being sorely missed today.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (February 22, 2013, 9:09 GMT)

Sharda Ugra; Have you watched cricket where any pace bowlers have played? Starc was at 148 k/hr in Australia, Pattinson and Siddle regularly over 140 k/hr. When England toured did you refer to Jimmy Anderson as slow medium and is B Kumar and I SHarma described as military medium. Please advise what do you consider fast bowling?

Posted by __PK on (February 22, 2013, 8:39 GMT)

Well spotted, redneck. Made even worse two sentences later by calling Kallis and Cronje/Klusener/Hayward half of a "pace" attack. I suppose he could have meant "military medium pace."

Posted by keithmillersmesserschmitt on (February 22, 2013, 2:33 GMT)

This tour is unlikely to build the "modern rivalry", since it will be largely invisible in one of the countries concerned---thanks to the incredible greed (and incompetence) of the BCCI. The most popular way to follow the games, radio, has no coverage, and television is only covered on cable, which most people don't have. Add to this the fact that the BCCI has also effectively starved Australian media of still images by trying to monopolise that sector as well and this series might as well not be happening as far as most Australians are concerned.

Posted by Evangelyst on (February 22, 2013, 1:58 GMT)

Hoping for an exciting and close series. As an Indian fan hope India win, but also looking to see good performances from youngsters from both sides. Broader hope as a cricket fan is that fast bowlers on both sides can sustain their health and remain injury free. Would be great if Pattinson, Yadav etc. have longer careers. would be a shame to see them cut down on pace or miss matches due to injuries. The world needs exciting fast bowlers.

Posted by DC75 on (February 22, 2013, 1:01 GMT)

I do not see how India can win the series, I will be more than happy if they can draw level against Aussies. Think of it, we do not have proper opening pair, no n0.6 or no.7 and our 3,4, and 5 are not consistent - clearly we cannot put big scores required on SC pitches. We have not put a big score in the last 3-4 years except against much weaker teams, so it should not be surprising. More worrying is our bowling, to say that we are weak bowling side is an understatement, we are not even club level - our spinners are out bowled by Panesars and Tredwells on our home pitches and we simply do not have fast bowlers, irrespective of what our selectors think. The only positive is that we can only improve from here...

Posted by JBaloch on (February 22, 2013, 0:42 GMT)

Its so funny, Indians love to call themselves rivals of Australia. :D and then get swept away clean every 3-4 years. India has not beaten Australia, England, South Africa for decades, while visiting. Even New Zealand. There is virtually no difference between India and Sri Lanka's performance in test cricket over last 20 years.

Posted by redneck on (February 22, 2013, 0:32 GMT)

who are you calling medium pace? is this an article about sri lanka? only henriques fits that description. starc and pattinson bowl consistently over 140 and siddle hovers between 120-140. a bit rich coming from and indian a nation that can barley find 2 decent bowlers who can bowl over 130!!!

Posted by nyc_missile on (February 22, 2013, 0:30 GMT)

I can see why Dhoni has problems with talented players especially if they are batsmen.Tiwary,Rayudu,Rahane have all so far been victims who haven't even allowed to debut.While worthless ones Vijay,Jadeja,Raina continue getting matches even if they are not suited for tests.

Posted by blink182alex on (February 21, 2013, 22:58 GMT)

The article describes Australia's quicks as 'medium pacers' i know seamers in India are usually medium pace, but i don't think you can say Siddle, Starc and Pattinson who have all bowled over 150kph in the last year are medium pace.

@Front-Foot-Lunge, the India side which lost 4-0 in England in 2011 was a much weaker and more disinterested team than the one which also lost 4-0 in Aus later the same year. Remember RP Singh playing, Zaheer's injury, Sehwag's injury, Amit Mishra attempting to bowl? How about Suresh Raina somehow playing a test match? No, funny how you don't mention that!

Posted by Nampally on (February 21, 2013, 21:56 GMT)

nyc_missile:You are right on with Dhoni's XI prediction.The Selectors expected the usual rightie, Leftie by replacing Gambhir with Dhawan. But logic does not exist in Dhoni's book. His XI is always Bizzare. It would have been a good idea to try new openers. But anything "New" is foreign to Dhoni. He will include Vijay,Jadeja & Harbhajan in XI. Rahane & B.Kumar will be out. SRT in the recent outings has been bowled via bat-pad gap. Siddle also had him out 4 times.Kohli has similar defence problem.Pujara is the only one with sound technique amongst the Indian batsmen if he abstains from his hook shot early in the innings. Pujara, who averaged 87 vs. England in test series, will be expected to carry the team in batting. How can he produce for a Captain after being benched by Dhoni in all 3 ODI's vs. England + MSD humiliated him with tongue lashing, captured on TV. Captains get the best out of their stars by keeping them motivated not via Bossy arrogance. Learn from Cook & Clarke, MSD.

Posted by nyc_missile on (February 21, 2013, 21:19 GMT)

Ideal scenario for me as someone who looks at long term Ind interests,is Kohli,Sehwag,Pujara & Rahane score heavily at different points of time in the series as clicking collectively will mean Ind win and so the destroyer Dhoni will continue being captain.Dhoni, well no need to wish he always fails as a test batsman and Ind lose the series.Let's see if Srinivasan has the shame and guts to retain him as captain even after 4 disgraceful series defeats!

Posted by nyc_missile on (February 21, 2013, 20:54 GMT)

As always sensible article by Sharda.Loser Dhoni with his moronic selections will again chose the least potent team from the squad.Ideally Sehwag should open with Dhawan if selectors are to show us they are not liars : left-right combo for ignoring Jaffer.Pujara at 3,Sachin at 4,Kohli at 5 and Rahane who's been warming bench for the last 1.5 yrs must be at 6.

But Dhoni will as usual try to sideline meritorious players and pick his useless CSK bunch. Vijay & Jadeja will play.To me personally the series result is a foregone conclusion just for one reason.Dhoni as test captain again after 3 shameful series hammerings. No matter what the 11 or 14 is,he has the special ability to lose even from winning positions.

Posted by nyc_missile on (February 21, 2013, 20:33 GMT)

Unless Oz goof it up or some individual brilliance from Ind saves the day,I see it as a series to lose for Aus.India under Dhoni in tests can forget winning matches if not series.So once again onus is on star power,Sehwag,Bhajji etc if they click Dhoni will be saved another hammering at home.

Ironically though,even then it will only be a false promise as we head into SA where an almighty thrashing awaits us.So unless there is a change of guard in terms of leadership & brave approach to selections its going to be another nightmare for us Ind fans.Dhoni sucks as captain.Period.

Posted by Nampally on (February 21, 2013, 19:12 GMT)

A well balanced preview, Sharda. India with 10 defeats in 17(60% losses) Vs. the Aussies with 2 defeats in 15 (14% losses), the Aussies are better of the 2 teams in transition. The problem with India is they do not have a PLAN. If the team is in transition with emphasis on youth,why does India recall Harbhajan with no performance to back it+ Dhoni still the team captain with his on field blunders leading to 60% loss record? Aussies on the other hand have a very dynamic captain in Clarke (like Captain Cook of England) who is the best batsman in the World today.Watson is equally great. These 2 at #4 & #5, held the batting from crumbling. If Pujara, Tendulkar & Kohli at #'s 3,4,5 can counter act them, the "Game is On".Only Pujara was great vs. England @ #3! In bowling Ashwin & Ojha will have to be at their best with B.Kumar & Ishant strong in support.India needs new spinners like Rasool & Nadeem + new openers + batsmen like Tiwary to justify the "transition" - not Harbhajan or Dhoni.

Posted by ShreJ on (February 21, 2013, 18:59 GMT)

My playing XI: Sehwag, Rahane, Pujara, Tendulkar, Kohli, Jadeja, Dhoni, Harbajhan, Ishant, Ojha, Bhuvneshwar Kumar

I believe that Rahane deserves a chance to open with sehwag, I simply do not trust vijay because of his inconsitency. The middle order is pretty much settled but i would like to see jadeja to be a part of it, he has been a key player for the past few months and i would like to see this follow through into test matches. I think that ashwin should be rested for a while and bhuvneshwar kumar should be given a debut. He has the potential and has shown his talent in the Pak and Eng series so he should make a good test contender. Ashwin has been disappointing as of late and it is about time he takes some time of, relaxes and comes up with a better plan to follow in test matches. Bhajji has tormented Aussies in the past, not sure if he will do it again but i will back him with my own money in this series. Hopefully it will be a good one

Posted by vinaykmr on (February 21, 2013, 18:29 GMT)

@symsun. yuth policy is only for jaffer n not for harbhajan, i agree. but y forget sachin at 40 when quoting yuth policy? no expectations from our bowlers. only batting hope is around pujara n to some extent from viru.

Posted by symsun on (February 21, 2013, 15:44 GMT)

Does the 'youth policy' is for both batsman and bowler or only for batsman (the reason behind ignoring Wasim Jaffer). Or a bowler with 32 yrs age (harbajan) can still be considered as youth?

Posted by on (February 21, 2013, 15:23 GMT)

I guess Indian team is not really well equipped and on the other hand Australian pacers can rip the Indian batting apart.

Posted by realfan on (February 21, 2013, 14:05 GMT)

i want to see RAHANE making debut ahead of vijay or dhawan.... and i just dont want to see any of harbajan , ashwin.... because they dont realise their role in the team...... and i think india should play with ishant, bhuvaneshwar, ojah, jadeja and if their is any help for spinners i would accept harbajan over ashwin..... no change in batting exept for rahane to make his debut...... i hope their will b good contest.....

Posted by   on (February 21, 2013, 14:02 GMT)

Any test match is a waste of time,Aussies are well built athletes where as indians more like a bunnies .This indian team has no class,shewag is waste of money and tendulkar is a past tense.virat kohli my god ,,all the cricket experts think that he is a captain material ,i beg to differ,he has got attitude problem.

Well ganguly was a captain material and certainly dhoni is one.

Dhoni will shine in this test series,others may be harbhajan bcoz he has got the fighter's attitude no other guy is even interested to play 5 day's cricket.

well hope India wins the series,i always like a aussie defeat.

Posted by AKS286 on (February 21, 2013, 13:41 GMT)

@ atuljain1969 on (February 21, 2013, 13:10 GMT ashwin role is of spinner it does't matter how he bats. Rest 6 will have batting duty so let them do. harbhajan is better than ashwin. ashwin flops with bowl. BHuv. kumar is not ideal for test due to no pace. and also MSD hided him with old bowl, no one know how he bowls old bowl with no speed. and also we did't saw any bouncer, yorker from B.Kumar so he is mystery. he is outstanding with new bowl but remember MSD is on the stumps when bowl gets old. in test he has to bowl 5 days with old ball. Ind need revverse swing, york, bouncer, with good pace. so go with dinda, yadav, mithun instead of B.Kumar.

Posted by yomeshk on (February 21, 2013, 13:37 GMT)

After supporting India series after series and see the team lose, I dont expect anything from this series. If India lose one of the tests from the first 2, it would be either 1-1 or 2-1 to Aussies. Also, it depends a lot on who bats first in Chennai. If Warner gets a chance to bat first and exploits the Indian bowlers the way he did in Perth it would be all over for India. Indian team is really short of confidence and it has been shattered more after the series lost to England at home. All Aussies need to do is give them one blow and the defensive captain Dhoni would be out in a minute.

Posted by sean_kelly on (February 21, 2013, 13:33 GMT)

India are so poor in all areas that Aus should have no problem wrapping up this series convincingly.

Posted by Paul_Rampley on (February 21, 2013, 13:30 GMT)

Agree with most of the comment that on tour form Henriques deserves his spot. But…As soon as we decided to play 3 quicks, plus Lyon, plus Clarke/Warner as back up, I don't see that he'll be getting much bowling. The 3 quicks should get plenty of rest in between spells. Or, if he does bowl a bit, that means one of the quicks is a wasted selection. So to me, the balance is wrong.If Henriques isn't likely to bowl much, then surely his spot should go to Khawaja. Which then drops Wade down to 7, which is far better balanced. Unless of course the selectors are saying they rate Henriques as a better bat than Khawaja, which is not correct.I could understand the "all rounder" selection better if it was instead of one of the quicks, or if it was a spinner, because then at least we know he'd get plenty of overs. But I'm happy that they haven't picked Maxwell just because he bowls spin, but because he hasn't earned a spot on merit. I do wish Moses well and hope he has a fantastic debut.

Posted by ambujkumar on (February 21, 2013, 13:15 GMT)

lets hope the pitch to have some turn for spinners and result come within 5 days...

Posted by ambujkumar on (February 21, 2013, 13:13 GMT)

whatever be the weakness in Aussies...but now my faith in Indian Cricket Team has Belied...i dnt expect 4-0 white wash..but being an Indian fan i expect India to alteast not lose any match and win this series to prevent herself from further humiliation after IndVsEng test series in India...

Posted by atuljain1969 on (February 21, 2013, 13:10 GMT)

Startling Indian eleven should be -- VIJAY ( local boy) , DHAWAN (left handed) , SACHIN, KOHLI, PUJARA, DHONI, JADEJA, HARBHAJAN / ASHWIN ( Leading run scorer and local boy) , BHUVNESH, OJHA, ISHANT.

Sehwag is well past his prime only grand luck could help him now, that too for few matches if selected.

Posted by DeckChairand6pack on (February 21, 2013, 13:08 GMT)

Nice article. These teams have had some good battles recently and of course India got touched up the last time they met. As a neutral I am looking forward to a good battle and a healthy fix of test cricket. I read Sameer-hbk's remark with interest and agree. It seems the way to be successful in India is to take it old skool and play time. Typical Australian cricket may not be the way forwarded. Barring MC I don't think they have the players to do it anyway. Australia are a hard unit and they will compete one way or another.

Posted by Sunil_Batra on (February 21, 2013, 13:07 GMT)

@Ax777 no doubt Khawaja has been treated unfairly but i am willing to give selectors the benefit of the doubt in this instance. If Cowan or Henriques fails then Khawaja will come in, its as simple as that. I am predictin he will be a star for us in the ashes. And your point on Wade batting at 6 when Gilly never did is absoulely correct. Lets hope we learn this before the ashes. I actually think Joe Burns should have been taken over to gain some experience and go on tour to get a flavour for the international team, for I have big wraps on him. Unfortunately, the Aust A series means he has to stay here anyway. Clarke is doing pretty well at 5, and if Khawaja is good enough to bat 3, he's good enough to bat 4. It doesn't really matter though, if I'm honest.Watson has had his best success as an opener when the ball is new, so I'd prefer him up there.

Posted by   on (February 21, 2013, 12:46 GMT)

Dhawan, Vijay, Pujara, Jadeja, Sachin, Sehwag, Dhoni, Bhajji, Ojha, Dinda, ishant.....shd be the starting XI...for chennai test......

Posted by kaushal_yadav on (February 21, 2013, 12:35 GMT)

It will be a tough series for both countries due to absence of stars like punter,dravid vvs, and inclusion of new talents. i think india will be favorites because they have still more quality players like sachin, kohli, sahwag but it will depend on their form. if murli get a chance then he may create differnce between teams. no doubt aus has good bowling attack than india. so one of our stars will have to take chalange of starc and jonshon.

Posted by Sir.Ivor on (February 21, 2013, 12:35 GMT)

After a longer than usual break, the excitement seems to have begun. Both the teams are in transition but I for one think that Australia is better placed, more so with a Captain who has led by example in the time he has had the reins. Of course with bowlers like Staarc.Siddle and Johnsom/Pattinson, India's batsman will have to be ever watchful of the ball. Even if the surfaces in India do not remotely resemble the wickets that were on offer in the 2011/2012 series played in Australia, I think Australia's attack looks quite formidable. India's spin bowling, made out by the media as the counter point to Australian pace, in my opinion is not likely to produce the kind of great success that we saw in 2001 because there is no X factor about any of India's present spin bowlers. I could be very wrong in this regard but I certainly rate Australia as favourites particularly because of the kind of captaincy we have seen Clarke to capable of producing. I expect Australia to win convincingly

Posted by   on (February 21, 2013, 12:01 GMT)

Bhajji, the veteran war horse, Kohli, the fighter, and Cheteshwar, the next big thing in Indian cricket, are the ones to watch. Will this be the test for Bhajji for survival in the team? Will Kohli regain the form that seems to have eluded him of late, and will Cheteshwar continue to construct the wall which he has already laid a sound foundation of? Of course, the Master Blaster will never be away from the limelight. Hope the pressure on him to perform does not cramp his phenomenal abilities.Surely, if any one knows how to deal with a situation like this, then it is Sachin. So let him do that, and prove all the doubters wrong yet again. We will also have a very interested appraisal of Dhoni going on all the time. Dhoni the Captain and Dhoni the player. So, we have an interesting contest lined up here !!

Posted by   on (February 21, 2013, 12:00 GMT)

Noted one thing that..before start of a test series, first time in 15 years, the focus was not on Sachin. The fading performance of the Titan makes him a 'member' of the team. Its may be a boon for India as the focus turns towards the 'so called young tallents of India' ..Pujara/Vijay/Kohli/Rahane and the pressure on Sachin will lighter..But is it going to be so ? The Aus team announced that they will target Sachin!..and the most stupid 'Media' will be like the vultures after Sachin's one failure!..I still bet, the definitive slim-line of win/loss difference in the series again will be Tendulker + 'Chhota Tendulker' (Sehwag) + Bhaji !! My Bet !! If these three fail, India loose, if these three succeed, India Win ! Other so called young talents are to support these three Titans !

Posted by   on (February 21, 2013, 11:53 GMT)

I am a Sri Lankan, but my wishes go to our big brother India, go....go....India.

Posted by brusselslion on (February 21, 2013, 11:47 GMT)

Good to see the absence of the usual chest-thumping "India will crush you 4-0" type comments. Maybe the penny has finally dropped that, when it comes to Test matches, this current Indian side is very poor. If this series was being played anywhere other than in India - or if Australia had anyone who was a half decent spinner - then there would only be one winner. However, it's not and they don't and, for the simple reason that I just can't see Australia taking 20 wickets, I think that despite their poor quality, an Indian series win seems the most likely outcome.

Posted by   on (February 21, 2013, 11:27 GMT)

Extremely disappointed no ABC radio coverage.....every day one more little thing gets taken away.....

Posted by Sameer-hbk on (February 21, 2013, 11:24 GMT)

The reason why Australia generally struggle in India far more than say a top team like South Africa, even during their time as the best in world cricket is simply because of their 'brand' of cricket. India at home struggles against disciplined oppositions. Indian batsman feel choked after a session that has say yielded 2 RPO and defensive fields with disciplined line and lengths frustrate them. Similarly Indian bowlers struggle to pick up wickets of batsman who place a premium on their head, likes of Cook or Amla. The Aussies though are all about attack; or they always were. They need to stop thinking about trying to 'out spin' India and just buckle up. Indian spinners are not all that patient and a session without wickets generally sees lethargic body language. Teams touring India will do well to follow the South Africa blueprint; its all about being a 'constrictor', not about striking with venom. Hope to see a good series that actually tests India fully

Posted by Kingzzzz on (February 21, 2013, 11:23 GMT)

Another Aus-Ind series another 4-0.

Posted by dunger.bob on (February 21, 2013, 11:21 GMT)

I think the Aussie bowling is the key. We have gambled heavily on being able to take 20 wickets with pace on a spinners track. .. Siddle is tremendously important to our cause these days. Has anyone noticed how much he has improved in the last 2 years. He has subtle out swing early and CAN reverse it after a series of well pitched leg cutters when the shine is gone. .. in the really tough times it's always Pete that gets thrown the pill because Clarke can see it as well. .. he'll have to bowl out of his skin to have any impact in India, but if anyone can do it, it's him. .. Starc is the shock weapon in this attack but he has to do it mostly by pitching up looking for that wicked in-swing to the R,H batters. .. a badge buster every now and then is mandatory but use it sparingly seems wisest. .. Patto is my biggest concern. Is he really fit for a start. His record of breaking down is something that's going to take a while to live down imo. Put that with his energetic style & its a worry

Posted by spinkingKK on (February 21, 2013, 11:07 GMT)

My 11 for the Chennai test will be: Vijay, Sehwag, Pujara, Kohli, Rehane, Tendulkar, Dhoni, Ashwin, B.Kumar, Ishant, Ojha.

Posted by   on (February 21, 2013, 10:53 GMT)

Whenever there used to be test series whether its abroad or in India, the focus used to be Sachin, Sehwag, Dravid and Laxman. Still two of them in board, but forgotten. I think Sachin or Sehwag has just become part of the team from the vital roles they used to assume. The focus is into players like pujara, rahane kohli etc. We need those people to come out and deliver not, that is the key today when we come out for playing test. The bowling line up seriously require some attention here. Are we gonna play ashwin vs jadeja. Well one should not forget Ashwin was the second highest run getter in last tournament. Both are still a work in progress. There were calls for makng Ashwin captain of Indian test side too. Well that could turn against him. Bhajjis form against australia or his influence int he top management might give him a birth. Hope Dhoni wont make serious mistakes when he selects the team. Lets wait and see what is in the store.

Posted by Papa_Tango on (February 21, 2013, 10:42 GMT)

'Know that their dressing rooms are Titan less'. Regardless of form is Tendulkar not a Titan? Does his faded performance take away his record?

Posted by WheresTheEmpire on (February 21, 2013, 10:25 GMT)

India and Aus - two completely different nations and peoples, one with an ancient history, one for the most part young ........ but completely united in passion for cricket and in a renowned appreciation of talented cricketers.

The cricket will be intense and, if conditions allow, attractive - both nations demand nothing else. I care less about the result and much, much more about the development of the talent in both sides.

Posted by zenboomerang on (February 21, 2013, 10:03 GMT)

For me, Ind v Oz Tests are something very special - as an Aussie we have struggled to win a match in India, let alone a series - so being massive under-dogs this should be a highlight to my summer, but for the lack of ABC radio for the 1st time I'm going to miss this series & so will my family... Guess many Oz fans will not know about this series due to lack of coverage... Where is the future of Test cricket going?... Many young kids are saying "who cares"...

Posted by dalboy12 on (February 21, 2013, 10:00 GMT)

Another really interesting series which i will follow as a neutral observer --- i reckon one key point is the way the Aussies attack and attack. I say this for two reasons --- firstly, the Aussies bowlers, are mostly quick guys which put in a lot of effort and use up a lot of energy, if India can survive the initial attack on what will probably be flat pitches then India could have some fun once those quick bowlers tire a bit. Secondly, the aussie batsmen will attack as well, and from what i have seen Dhoni can be very conservative in his captaincy. Will he be brave enough to stay attacking with his spinners even when the Aussie batsmen like Clark, Warner and Watson are going after them?

Posted by CricketMaan on (February 21, 2013, 9:54 GMT)

Watto won't score 100, but Clarke will. Wade will drop catches, but will score brisk 50s, Siddle won't rock, but Starc will. Lyon won't trouble but will irritate. Cowan, Khwaja, Hughes can be either heroes or zeroes. Pattinson wil get injured and Maxwell will play.

Posted by   on (February 21, 2013, 9:40 GMT)

Contest between two equally bad teams can be as absorbing as the one between two equally good ones. So, let us enjoy ourselves. (Yes, the worry starts, when we get emotionally involved worrying about the future of our respective national teams. Can we get rid of that emotional attachments? I really don't know!)

Posted by AKS286 on (February 21, 2013, 9:27 GMT)

Oz lost this match before it gets started. Oz team stuck and concentrated upon with their spinners. think broadly- opening, middle order, lower order, WK is a major problem for Oz. Soo much value to spinners it demoralizes the pace bowler, show trust on you strenght Oz. Clarke is batting on no 5 why? Clarke is stuck with numerology- that no.5 is lucky for him. just look at Cook & KP batting order.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (February 21, 2013, 9:15 GMT)

This is, as @Nutcutlet says, a fascinating series for the neutral. Observing both sets of fans there does appear to be a rather downbeat mood - somewhat less justifiable in the Australians perhaps than the Indians. Although India have a rather poor record in the last 2 years, most of the defeats have come away from home. Fortress India is still, if not inexpugnable, at least a tough one to breech; this series will show just how strong the defences remain. For Australia there are plenty of questions about how well the side can do under pressure, both when struggling in alien conditions and when trying to finish off opponents (how many matches and series have escaped that was in the last 4 years?). Lose in India and the tour of England will start to look tougher; win in India and you know that the summer series will look much tighter.

Posted by KiwiRocker- on (February 21, 2013, 9:15 GMT)

Moises Henriques is definitely a good choice. He has shown enough to be selected in the first XI. It is a shame that Australian selectors did not go with Brad Haddin as he is one hell of a batsman against spinners. India is obviously going to put all their eggs in one basket and play three spinners. Indian batsmen are netouriously weak against pace unlike Pakistani/SL batsmen who truggle against bound and seam but play pace better than India. You would not see any SA bowlers attacking Pakistani batsmen with short pitch bowling but Indian batsmen especially likes of Raina, Pujara etc are sitting ducks against short pitch bowling, hence, it would have been wiser to include Mitchell Johnson ahead of Pattinson. Mitch has played before in India and has a good measure of Indian batsmen. Never the less, Australia has selected a good team and I do not care what those pundits of cricket are hyping about, I still say Australia will win this series. It may not be a white wash though!

Posted by dinesh.lovecricket on (February 21, 2013, 9:12 GMT)

@Kshatriya_descendant-Brother either u have just statrted watching cricket or you are too much confused at its complexities!!!! Their is a difference bw T20 and tests

Posted by ActionJacksonMan on (February 21, 2013, 9:01 GMT)

It shapes as an era-defining series for this Australian side. The Aussies have won only 2 of the last 10 Ashes Test matches, and the spectre of back-to-back Ashes series this year is looming very large in Australian minds. If the Aussies are trounced in India, I suspect that they will be subsequently demolished by England, and they could well break their national record for most Test losses in a calendar year (currently 7, from 1979). However, if they are able to achieve a result in this series, it could give them the self-confidence they need to rise to the challenge of reclaiming the urn.

I predict that India will win 3-1, mainly due to the Australian batsmen's fallibility against spin, and the fact that Nathan Lyon does not pose nearly as big a threat as the Indian spinners (we all know that all four pitches will be bunsen burners). For similar reasons, I think the tosses will be crucial. Australia will want to avoid ever having to bat last against India's flotilla of spinners.

Posted by Yuji9 on (February 21, 2013, 9:01 GMT)

Australia deserve to lose the first test as our selectors have no respect for Test cricket - Henriques is good maybe one day for an ODI or two but has done nothing to justify a 'Baggy Green' other than being from NSW - Usman Khawaja is without question the most technically brilliant young batsman Australia has produced for many years yet his treatment by the selectors is on par with criminality - How can Aus play Wade at number 6 when Gilchrist never got higher than 7 his whole career and on what basis is Jackson Bird left out? He'll probably get injured like Cummins did from not playing enough cricket - How does Maxwell's 27 first class wickets at 33 get him on tour? What a joke to call him a Test all-rounder! Oh well it won't matter though cos Indian selectors have helped us by picking Harbhajan Singh and as for Sachin, well the England series highlights say it all - this could be an undignified finale for a bloke who doesn't seem to know how to let go

Posted by Harmony111 on (February 21, 2013, 8:59 GMT)

Well, if India can just win this series 1-0 I would be very happy. This team has been surprising us in the negative way all through the last 24 months and so I really have little hopes this time. Problem is, both the teams are far too weak to last for full 5 days. Thus unless it rains, we are going to have results in all 4 matches. Aus are too inexp and could collapse in some session but India too are likely to do that. This means predicting the result of a test match even when it is underway is diff let alone the series. Both the teams are so much weak as the moment (India more so) that the weaker team could get into a trench and may not be able to come out. So a 3-0 win for either side, a 2-2 draw or a 2-1 win for either side is not unlikely. It would be shocking if a side wins 4-0 here. It would mean the other side is truly pathetic. Ind may win but only just. 1-0 or may be 2-1 but it could just be the other way round too.

Posted by   on (February 21, 2013, 8:59 GMT)

Australia has been slowly closing its weaknesses over the last two years but not fast enough for this tour. The couple of inadequacies we still have could be exposed in India. In some respects it would easier playing South Africa then India, at least that contest is about pace and bounce, something we are more familiar with then the guile of spin on the sub continent. In the end we just have to play aggressively and positively with bat and ball, Australia is at its best when we go for victory from the first ball.

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (February 21, 2013, 8:52 GMT)

India to wrap this series up 3-0

Posted by boehj on (February 21, 2013, 8:38 GMT)

Really looking forward to this series. Bring it on.

Posted by   on (February 21, 2013, 8:29 GMT)

The Test Series of Ind Vs Aus always be interesting. Though Aussies have won only 1 test that too in 1969 when they first visited Chennai (then Madras), they fought well in the reamaining 5 tests. India did win 2 tests (from 1969-2004)due to largely good spin bowling especially in2001, when Harbhajan called the shots. But nobody can forget the Tie No.2 in 1986 when Greg Mathews claimed the last wicket of Maninder Singh by LBW and our umpires were honest in that crunch situation. And Shrada Ugra's article on the invincibility of Indians in quite understandable. We have got some advantages in spin bowling. India's ascendency in Test should start from here and Dhoni's winning ways should start with this. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

Posted by whoster on (February 21, 2013, 8:11 GMT)

This should be a fascinating series. Both sides in transition, and plenty of players on both sides with points to prove. Would have to go for India though, as Australia lack the spin options England had back in December. A lot will depend on how much discipline and patience the Aussie batsmen have in building an innings. India must be favourites, but who knows?

Posted by Kshatriya_descendant on (February 21, 2013, 8:09 GMT)

India need to make a few changes, first thing they need to do is bring both the pathan brothers back they bring balance to the side not to sure why they got dropped in the first place. also robin uttappa should be given another chance his in good form. drop lazy gambir cant field bowl or even bat nowadays, and forget rohit sharma these guys have been given enough chances.

Posted by irfansyed on (February 21, 2013, 8:03 GMT)

india is favorite due to home conditions and they have better spiners than Aus

Posted by Nutcutlet on (February 21, 2013, 8:01 GMT)

There is a gt deal of interest for the entirely neutral spectator in this series; I'm looking forward to it. Having watched both sides recently, there are a number of aspects I'm looking out for, in no particular order: will the admirable Pujara continue to show the progress that he showed against England? Will India show cohesion on the field ( the side picked by MSD?)? Is SRT's decline absolutely terminal? Will SRT make an announcement to that effect before the series ends (a real chance to boost ticket sales & produce an expensive glossy magazine for the BCCI)? How good are the Oz quicks on unresponsive surfaces? Will the Oz bats be undone by spin as they try to take the attack to them? Who will win the battle of the captains (I think I know the answer, but mustn't prejudge)? Will Kohli press his credentials as capt of the Test side, with exemplary behaviour as well as top performances? Has Indian fielding improved? And finally, are the Ozzies in good shape for the Ashes?

Posted by warneneverchuck on (February 21, 2013, 7:59 GMT)

AUS will miss hussy but they will be happy that ponting is not ther as he was the biggest failure in India. Guess what Aus fans call these pitches flat but don't realize that their so called great has been less than average on Indian pitches and a poor player against quality spin. Warne would have enjoy bowling against such average player of spin on turning wickets

Posted by mzm149 on (February 21, 2013, 7:58 GMT)

India will try to draw as many matches as possible because with this team they can never win against might Aussies.

Posted by satish_XI on (February 21, 2013, 7:57 GMT)

@504429641 : letting the players know 1/2 days in advance doesn't mean letting the media/ the opposition know it in advance .,letting the player(s) knowing, alone would do !!!

Posted by Edassery on (February 21, 2013, 7:55 GMT)

Please don't talk about rivalry and revenge. The last time Suresh Raina uttered it, we got trashed convincingly. It's more of a series where a few young blokes from either side get to learn a bit about test cricket - though not at its highest level

Posted by stormer1980 on (February 21, 2013, 7:47 GMT)

As a Saffa fan , this is certainly an exciting series ... New look teams .. Heroes waiting to be born ... Young hungry side wanting to prove that while they respect there previous generations .. they are better than there previous generation .So many one on one duels here ... but the key one on one is Clarke vs Dhoni .. Flamboyant vs Practitioner .... These two men will lead these two young sides with a sprinkle of experience in each team and they will have to carry alot ... From the Toss to the end of each test ... The main threat for Aus are the two spinners , Ashwin and Ohja ... They will have to get on top of those guys and then there's Tendulkar .. never right him off ... The threat for India , I think Aus quicks are good enough to bowl on any surface and will be very hungry ... and then there is Shane Watson , not a bad player of spin as well as Clarke .. if not a drawn series , i wuld give it to India , mainly because they home and know there tracks

Posted by SherjilIslam on (February 21, 2013, 7:36 GMT)

@ umangsagar on (February 21, 2013, 6:26 GMT): What an assessment mate...that's why so many of the fans stopped following test cricket in India due to BCCI policies. My simple question is why the Indian cricket is being run by an Industrialist rather than a cricketer itself????

Posted by Stat1977 on (February 21, 2013, 7:31 GMT)

Moder Rivalry? What does that Mean? I would agree if It was Aus Vs Eng or Aus Vs RSA..

Posted by ravi_b on (February 21, 2013, 7:16 GMT)

Very uneven series: Both teams have batters but only one team has bowlers

Posted by   on (February 21, 2013, 7:04 GMT)

This series will be decided on the batting of Viru, Sachin and MS on the Indian side, and Clarke and Watson for the Aussies, as far as the bowlings are concerned if any singular bowler can turn the series on his head it is only Harbhajan Singh. Lets hope for some good quality cricket

Posted by 504429641 on (February 21, 2013, 7:00 GMT)

One good thing i like about Aus is that the playing XI is always announced two days in advance (whether home or away) whereas for Ind, no one knows playing XI till the toss time. I somehow feel letting the players know whether they will be part of playing XI in advance (atleast a day in advance) will give them some confidence (for playing XI) and the will & determination to practice harder (for non playing players). Keeping the suspense till toss time might not make the players mentally strong (only for the players whose inclusion in XI is not guaranteed. not for players who will definitely be in XI). This is just my opinion.

Posted by wrighty1012 on (February 21, 2013, 6:48 GMT)

Certainly well written, however I'm not convinced it is appropriate for the audience. Sport Journalism should be more refined than that. Otherwise a great preview.

Posted by Lahore-Badshah on (February 21, 2013, 6:45 GMT)

Will be a very good and challenging series for both teams......... Test of temperament and skill for youngsters of both sides....... (Bowlers & Batters)......

Posted by atuljain1969 on (February 21, 2013, 6:45 GMT)

Again another series, last time I calculated 2-0 for England, it ended at 2-1 for England.

This time, it may be 1-1 or 2-1 in Australia's favor. If Lyon could play in all 4 tests, ,he may be the leading wicket taker.

The simple for this is that , our Batsmen no longer have patience to stay at the wicket. On Indian wickets if you could not score in excess of 400 in ist innings then the advantage is lost and it becomes anybodys game

Posted by   on (February 21, 2013, 6:42 GMT)

IMO this will be a great & a competitive series. My predictions will be a 2-1 win for India 1st Test (India) 2nd Test (Draw) 3rd Test (India) 4th Test (Australia)

Posted by Paddy789 on (February 21, 2013, 6:40 GMT)

This series is going to more exciting then the upcoming back to back Ashes !!

Posted by Gozunder on (February 21, 2013, 6:33 GMT)

Looks like a good series in the making. Pup's got his hands tied with limited batting options other than himself, Watto, Hughesy and Davy Warner. India look better prepared this time though, better than they have before, all players looking fit and battle ready. Fletcher's last stand really, Joe Dawes working hard with the bowlers...looks good for India, hope to see them conjure a fight this time...cheers!

Posted by   on (February 21, 2013, 6:28 GMT)

India Playing XI: 1.sehwag,2.Rahane,3.pujara,4.sachin,5.Kohli,6.dhoni,7.jadeja/harbhajan,8.ashwin,9.bhuvanesh,10.Oza,11.ishanth (vijay,Dhavan, Dinda,jadeja/harbhajan)

Posted by umangsagar on (February 21, 2013, 6:26 GMT)

Nice article...and thanks to BCCI for putting off a lot of fans by their policy of not selecting players based on merit and merit alone, but a few years back it was based on zones, now the first eligibility is a certain god of cricket (i am myself like all indians a fan of him) approaching 40 will get to play based on his past record and expectation of success as he has provided for over 2 decades...while a certain other mumbaikar who has been by far the best opener in domestic cricket this season does not stand a chance being many years younger to his other senior this tells me its not just age, your performance in domestic matches also does not count you in...i wont be surprised if murli makes the cut, because other than being a very good bastsment, he belongs to a certain IPL team which houses half of the current Indian Team COINCIDENTLY and is owned by a certain BIGGY in the BCCI....good going truly represent Indian Cricket fans.

Posted by Saad-H on (February 21, 2013, 6:20 GMT)

i think aus wud loose 1st test, but wud do better in remaining, may be result wud be 2-1 in aussies' favour as there are many unknowns for both sides and also weak aussie spin department and indians having weak and untested seamers

Posted by Jayzuz on (February 21, 2013, 6:16 GMT)

Well, we have a lot of people making bold predictions. Given that AUS won the last series 4-0, and they haven't lost a test series away for about three years, predictions that they will lose 3-0 or 4-0 are plainly silly. You don't keep winning because you are "very average", as so many have written about the Australian team here. Over the last 2 1/2 half years or so the AUS test team has won 55% of their tests, drawn 30%, lost just 15%. Now, what are India's stats over this period? Pretty much the reverse. And still we have people saying India will thrash AUS. It's not going to happen. It might be close, and India might win, but this Indian team isn't doing any smashing of AUS anytime soon. Maybe people should actually look at performances before making foolish generalisations.

Posted by   on (February 21, 2013, 6:13 GMT)

Kohli bowls military medium. Why not use him for 5 - 8 overs along Ishant so that spinners are better effective. ( conventional sense says spinners are better with ball a bit old. ) If Ishant and Kohli bowl about 8 - 10 overs between them and then spinners can take over in better frame. Though we need to keep in mind that wickets are not expected from Kohli. And I am sure no one will complain just in case he is able to produce some. ;)

Posted by Edwards_Anderson on (February 21, 2013, 6:11 GMT)

I am glad with the allrounder picked. Maxwell is a spinner by name only. I don't think you should pick him as a spinner just because he calls himself one. The truth is, we are currently struggling to pick one specialist spinner, let alone two. We simply don't have the cattle.Henriques has been bowling reverse swing - another weapon apart from spin on Indian wickets - and took 4 top order wickets in the tour game, so I think the selectors are feel like there might be more than one way to skin a cat, so to speak. Khawaja will get his chance later in the series and he will be key for us. However if it was up to me I would have assumed that picking a seaming all-rounder meant we picked 2 frontline quicks.I would have thought the balance would be 6 batsmen, a keeper, a spinner, 2 quicks, and an all-rounder.The batting has been a concern, yet we're shortening it? I hope i am wrong but i think the batting will get caught out.

Posted by Jayzuz on (February 21, 2013, 6:08 GMT)

@ex-Srilankan, results in the past two years clearly show that AUS and SA are the best two performing teams in recent times, not ENG and SA. As for consistent performances away from home, AUS has a much better record than England during that period. AUS beat WI and SL, and drew with SA. Didn't lose any series. In fact they only lost one ODI series away, as well. How consistent does a team have to be?

Posted by DINESHCC on (February 21, 2013, 6:03 GMT)

Whatever may be the home advantage, the final score reads India scored one run less than the runs scored my Michael Clarke, in both the innings.

Posted by hycIass on (February 21, 2013, 5:59 GMT)

By the end of this series we will know what our ashes squad will be. For the return Ashes series at the end of the year, I wouldn't be surprised if this is the 13 man squad:

Watson Warner Hughes Clarke Khawaja Burns Wade Siddle Pattison Lyon Bird

With Starc the next fast bowler in the squad, and Henriques the all-rounder waiting in the wings for the inevitable Watson injury, or for flexibility.

Posted by nikkam on (February 21, 2013, 5:47 GMT)

for once the TV ads reflect the true state..that the real test awaits a new look India team. What we have to remember is that in the Ganguly era India were invincible at home and slowly built upon that confidence to become forces to reckon with even outside India. This series is important for India as many youngsters have to establish themselves to restore the aura of invincibility that India had at home. The chances of doing this are also higher as Australia are also in transition and not experienced as England were. I predict India will win this series but will be taken to the limits by the Aussies. MSD has a lot to prove in the test arena considering the recent scoreline @albert. He has proven that he can motivate youngsters to achieve greater heights and will be keen to establish Indias invincibility at home. He is up against a shrewd captain in Clarke, who is more astute and aggressive than cook . Hence the series promises to be the battle of the captains.

Posted by sony_sr on (February 21, 2013, 5:36 GMT)

Looking at the aus batting line-up, its hard to believe they will win.

Posted by   on (February 21, 2013, 5:28 GMT)

I Think My Playing 11 is : Viru - Dhavan, Pujara - Sachin, Kohli - Dhoni, Jadeja - Ashwin/ Oza, Bhajji - Bhuvi - Ishant.............?(Rahane, Dinda, Vijay, Oza)

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (February 21, 2013, 5:25 GMT)

Althoiugh these two sides meeting is always big stuff, I really see India winning quite convincingly. Lyon is quite a tidy bowler but he has no backup and spin really is the key here. Chennai should be a lovely wicket to bowl on fo spinners and it is in this department that the series will be decided. Australia talk up their spin dept but they all nonentities after Lyon.Too many pace men on Indian wickets really is disadvantage unless they are Malcom Marshall and co. Neither side has great batting unless Sehwag rolls back the years,and Sachin fires again. Clarke is the big gun for Aus-worth the rest of the order on his own almost. Watson needs to be at 1 for Aus to do well, and the rest can just slot in between him and Clarke. Siddle will bowl loads of overs and India should win by a margijn, hopefully using 3 spinners throughout.

Posted by wiseshah on (February 21, 2013, 5:19 GMT)

india belong to category with bangladesh, NZ, west indies, pakistan. there wont be any competition with team like australia

Posted by   on (February 21, 2013, 5:18 GMT)

Appu Dasa's comments seem to be very reasonable, India should not count this as a series in their pocket already, in fact the opposite may happen. How long a captain with Dhoni's win-loss ratio can survive? This would not have happened in Australia. However, this happens in India. Because Australia wants to win tests more. That is the key.

Posted by santhosh095 on (February 21, 2013, 5:10 GMT)

my eleven of indian team. 1.sehwag,2.vijay,3.pujara,4.sachin,5.vijay,6.dhoni,7.jadeja,8.ashwin,9.harbhajan,10.bhuvanesh,11.ishanth

Posted by RobTay14 on (February 21, 2013, 5:09 GMT)

yep, it really does feel like, for a lot of teams in the world, a new era is here.

Posted by ex-Srilankan on (February 21, 2013, 5:07 GMT)

This is one of the series that will decide who gets to challenge the top two test sides, England and South Africa. Together with Pakistan, Australia and India are clearly the challengers for the top spots. Although Australia are probably on top of this grouping, Australia need to prove they can consistently win away from home including under conditions that do not suit them, something Australian media and fans alike keep reminding everyone that the sub-continental teams do not do. As any series between teams with very different home conditions, I suspect the home side, India will take the lead. If they don't, they will most likely lose the series as Sharda Ugra writes the sides are in different planes and that will be more evidence that India is still to hit bottom.

I only wish we could have seen it on free-to-air TV in Australia as this series will be far closer than the Ashes.

Posted by indianfan535 on (February 21, 2013, 5:07 GMT)

Having read the newspapers, one must conclude that Murali Vijay is going to open with Sehwag. They say that the selectors twisted Dhoni's arm by selecting Vijay, thus guaranteeing him a place in starting XI. Ajinkya Rahane is seen as a middle order bat, but he has the right temperament to be an accomplished opener, and I think that he should be given a run at the top of the order alongside Viru.

I think 5 specialist bowlers is the way forward for India. 2 fast bowlers and 3 spinners, giving Bhuvneshwar Kumar a go at the aussies. Ashwin and Bhajji together make up for a batsman, and they also lend balance to the team.

Rahane, Viru, Pujara, Sachin, Virat, Dhoni, Ashwin, Harbhajan, Bhuvneshwar, Ishant, Ojha. That, I think is the best XI for India, regardless of the conditions available.

Posted by landl47 on (February 21, 2013, 5:05 GMT)

This is a very difficult series to predict. Australia has a couple of batsmen in Warner and Hughes who can take a game away in a hurry. Aus also has the incomparable Clarke, the best batsman and captain in the world at the moment. The Australian pace quartet is youthful and high-powered, much better than anything India can offer.

However, Aus's batting is light, with Wade at #6, Watson seeking to establish himself as a pure batsman and Henriques, career average 30, at #7. They also have only one spinner, which may be a problem.

India has questions up and down the line-up, both in batting and bowling. If their batsmen and spinners do well, they can be formidable, but they also fall apart when things go badly. Kumar looks a good seam prospect, but has no test experience. Tendulkar hasn't made a test hundred in his last 30 innings and will be 40 in 2 months. But still, they're at home, where they rarely lose.

No predictions on this series. I hope it's a good one for both sides.

Posted by   on (February 21, 2013, 5:04 GMT)

My Playing XI: Viru,Dhawan,Pujara,Sachin,Kohli,Dhoni,Jadeja,Ashwin,Bhaji,Ishant,Bhuvi

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (February 21, 2013, 5:03 GMT)

Mitchell Johnson, one of 4 Australian players with Indian experience (along with Watson, Siddle and Clarke), a player in the form of his life right now, and who, last time he was in this kind of form, won the ICC cricketer of the year award, was oddly omitted, in favour of Peter Siddle, also with Indian experience, who was poor in the warm up games and is the only one of the 4 who has a poor record in India. This is bizarre beyond belief and really should be highlighted as the worst decision made by the selectors. The other 10 were not bad choices but without Johnson you are missing your one bowler with a good record in India, your one true attack leader. Perhaps Australia will still win. But chances are that it won't be because of Siddle. When India's side is announced it will be equally important - they have already cut Gambhir, Yuvraj and Raina, all odd choices, given their replacements. This could well end up, this time around, as a battle of the selectors.

Posted by   on (February 21, 2013, 4:59 GMT)

Series is going to begin tomorrow. according previous result aus has upper hand but india played well in their home ground despite they defeated by english team last time in test dec 2012.

Posted by Mary_786 on (February 21, 2013, 4:56 GMT)

We have 2 areas of concern, one is spin bowling and the other is our middle order which will have to deal with the Indian spinners. In the middle order i have onfidence in the likes of Watson, Hughes and Khawaja(when he gets his chance)working round Clarke to get the runs. But with the spinners i am not sure if Lyon will come though, so i am glad we are sticking with our pace attack.

Posted by   on (February 21, 2013, 4:56 GMT)

My team for India:

Dhavan, Sehwag, Pujara, Kohli, Tendulkar, Rahane,Dhoni,Harbhajan, Ashwin, Ishant, Ozha

Posted by agarkarno1 on (February 21, 2013, 4:55 GMT)

Spinners if they bowl consistently on off stump with flight and on the area which creates doubt on the batsmen, whether to go on front foot or back foot, will get wickets. That is how Bhajji got those wickets in 2001.

Posted by Selfishkar on (February 21, 2013, 4:42 GMT)

The author forgot mention that Indian pace 'attack' is spear'headed' by Ishant Sharma who averages close to 40 per wicket after having played almost 50 tests. Hopefully , the other 'talented' Sharma, Rohit, will debut and (Sriram?) cement his place in the middle-order.

Posted by Albert_cambell on (February 21, 2013, 4:31 GMT)

0-4, 2-0, 0-4, 2-0, 1-2. Excellent figures from india. Good job dhoni. I think they will add another 0-4 and 0-3(when they face us in SA)

Posted by   on (February 21, 2013, 4:30 GMT)

Do not be too assured. Just few months back India started as favorites against England but ended losing the series. THe spin secret no longer had any influence on spin. Judging by the past Aussies are better players of spin than England. So India, do not too bullish about it.

Posted by   on (February 21, 2013, 4:23 GMT)

This series will be a great start for the season... India vs Australia has always been epic & this time also it won't be any different...

Posted by deep6321 on (February 21, 2013, 4:16 GMT)

Austrslia and India are both emerging from the loss of their big stars.Austraslian Bowling looks stronger.But I doubt their batting.there are lots of new comers .so it will be a good test against indian spin.On the other hand Indian pace bowling looks pretty weak to me.I dont know how much effective B Kumar will be in the series.Isahnt Sharma should bowl on to the stumps .Most of the time he just bowls far outside off.According to me playing elevens should be:

Australia:-Ed Cowan,David Warner,P hughes,S Watson,M Clarke,M Henriques,M Wade,M Johnson,M Starc,N lyon,P Siddle.

India : A Rahane,V Sehwag,C Pujara,S tendulkar,V Kohli,Ms Dhoni,R jadeja,R Ashwin,B Kumar,Ishant,P Ojha.

Posted by nthuq on (February 21, 2013, 4:09 GMT)

Warner to take up Sehwag's mantle as of this series, I reckon. Except that he can actually rein in his instincts and play swing. Hard to tell which bowlers from the Australian side will have an impact. It could well be the making of Lyon, for instance.

Posted by Jimmyrob83 on (February 21, 2013, 4:08 GMT)

"Australia's medium pacers" Your in for a shock.

Posted by vish2020 on (February 21, 2013, 3:53 GMT)

My money and interest in on of course God himself Sachin and prodigy Cheteshwar. They fail and it will be a sweep. They come out in flying colors and Aussies will be hoping the plane ride back home couldn't come fast enough

Posted by AvidCricFan on (February 21, 2013, 3:52 GMT)

If one goes by India's last two years of records including the most recent ones, it is going to be tough for India. I have serious doubt about Shewag, SRT in batting and bowling in general.

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