Australia face three selection questions

Keeping in the subcontinent is a challenging experience. Is Matthew Wade up for it? AFP

Steven Smith's Australian side faces the daunting task of trying to defeat a buoyant Indian team, ably led by Virat Kohli.

To put the task into context, Kohli is undefeated as captain in 13 Tests at home. The closest any team has come to victory over a Kohli-led side was South Africa's 108-run loss in the opening Test of their 2015-16 series in India.

That was the first in India's 13-match sequence, and a succession of even greater Indian triumphs has followed, over increasingly hapless opponents. Australia will need to be mentally tough and maintain a high skill level to halt this trend.

Smith's team has prepared diligently, albeit mostly on specially concocted pitches in Dubai. This raises the question of whether the Australians were better off in the relative comfort of the nets, or if it would have been wiser to challenge themselves in the highly competitive atmosphere of the Sheffield Shield.

In general, nothing beats confidence acquired from making runs or taking wickets in a competitive atmosphere. The Australians might have gained some insights from practising on spinning pitches in Dubai, but until they are tested out in the middle in the heat of battle, those discoveries are only theories.

In addition to whether they can make enough runs to challenge India or keep the home side's rampant batsmen in check, Australia have three main headaches.

Should they prefer the inexperienced but promising Matt Renshaw over the talented but injury-prone Shaun Marsh in the opening position? Given the adjustments Renshaw has made in each successive Test he has played, and his catching ability at first slip, he should get first crack as opener.

If Renshaw is selected, Marsh will then bat in the middle order and Australia have to decide whether Usman Khawaja is to bolster the batting, or whether they utilise an allrounder at six. If they opt for an allrounder, should it be Mitchell Marsh, to complement the pace attack, or if the preference is for more spin-bowling options, do they gamble on Glenn Maxwell? Choosing Maxwell is a risk. He's like a stick of dynamite - explosive but also capable of detonating prematurely.

Australia's other concern is Matthew Wade's wicketkeeping. He's another risky choice because he's a flawed gloveman. To choose Wade is to take a gamble that the runs he could potentially score will exceed those he might concede. The odds aren't favourable in India, as opponents can't afford to reprieve batsmen of the calibre of Kohli and company. Wade will have his technique regularly tested in the most demanding position for a keeper - standing up to the stumps.

Then there's the matter of Australia's batting order. It appears that Smith has made the wise decision to promote himself to No. 3, so that India won't have a trio of left-handers to attack at the start of an innings. This would be too much of a luxury for R Ashwin, who has a distinct fondness for bowling to left-handers.

This move also has the advantage of separating Australia's two best players of spin - Smith and Peter Handscomb - while also maintaining a left-right combination through the middle order. That batting line-up gives Australia their best chance of success and makes Kohli's job just a little more challenging.

Smith will face his own captaincy challenge as he wrestles with getting the balance right between when to use pace and when to opt for spin. In Australia he seems more comfortable using pace bowlers rather than spinners.

The penetrative pair of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood will benefit if they are used in short, sharp spells. It will also help Australia's cause if both are reasonably fresh when the highly dangerous Kohli first arrives at the crease. If Smith underuses Nathan Lyon, it will mean longer spells for the two pace spearheads.

A confident Australian squad has arrived in India after a solid, prolonged preparation in the nets. Maintaining that confidence through a gruelling Test series is a challenge that is rarely met by teams touring India.