Australia vs India 2018-19: 1st Test - Preview and Predicted Playing XI
After levelling the T20I series, Australia and India will look to draw first blood when they go up against each other in the longest version of the game for the first Test at Adelaide Oval from Thursday, December 6.
Both teams have played 44 test matches against each other in Australian conditions, with 28 of those have been won by the Aussies and five by the Indians, while the remaining 11 ended in draws. They have faced each other on 11 occasions at the Adelaide in the longest format with the Australians bamboozling the scoreline 7-1.
In their most recent encounter at this venue back in December 2014, thanks to Nathan Lyon 12 wicket match haul, Aussies managed to pip out visitors by 48 runs.
India have not won a single Test at the Adelaide since their memorable triumph in 2003. While considering their recent Test form outside the sub-continent, this won't be an easy task for them. They have won just two out of the eight Tests they have played outside Sub-Continent this year. They started off the year with a 1-2 series loss in South Africa, then were decimated by 1-4 in England.
Meanwhile, their most recent Test series win came at home against West Indies in November 2018. It was a two-match series which the hosts ended up winning comfortably by 2-0.
Virat Kohli is going through a supreme run of form at the moment. The skipper finished as the best batsman in the last overseas series against England with 593 runs and was India's leading run-getter in their 2014 tour with 692 runs. The skipper will once again be a major threat for Australian bowlers.
Cheteshwar Pujara has been India's most dependable player when it comes to Test cricket and he scored 94 runs in his previous test outing on this ground and him along with Ajinkya Rahane will hold the batting in the middle order in case of early jolts. While Rishabh Pant who cracked a ton in the final test against England and hit two fifties in the previous test series versus the West Indies might be a surprise package for Aussies.
KL Rahul cracked 149 in the Oval Test against England. In the absence of Prithvi Shaw, who sustained an ankle injury during the warm-up game against Cricket Australia XI, he is likely to open the innings with Murali Vijay.
Vijay has been given another opportunity considering his performance in 2014 Aussie tour, where he finished as third highest run-getter with 482 runs (behind Steve Smith and Kohli). This will be up to this pair to set up a good platform for the rest of the innings and prove their mettle on overseas tours.
Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah will be among the major threats with the ball on this pace-friendly surface and both are likely to cause more problems for the Australian batsmen.
Mohammed Shami is coming off an impressive tour of England and was India's best bowler with 15 wickets in 2014 tour. He will look to provide the early breakthroughs. Ravichandran Ashwin is one of the team's most successful test bowler with 336 wickets in 64 matches and the off-spinner will be backed by skipper to put pressure on middle order batsman.
Expected Playing XI
Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma/Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah
Australia may have had a tough time in test cricket of late, but they are not an easy opponent, especially in their own den. They have not faced a single defeat against India in their last nine test encounters at home, which will certainly boost their confidence.
The Australian batting will mainly depend on Usman Khawaja and Aaron Finch. Both were among the leading run-getters in the recently concluded test series against Pakistan with 229 and 181 runs respectively. It will be crucial that they take the confidence into the match to help Aussies post a good total on board.
Shaun Marsh topped the runs charts in the Ashes series against England with 445 runs and the team will need him to replicate his form into this series. The Aussies will also bank on the likes of skipper Tim Paine and Mitchell Marsh to make notable contributions in this match.
When it comes to bowling, Australia have a decent bowling attack in Michelle Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins. Starc with 186 wickets in 45 Tests has been the team's go-to bowler, and the onus will be on him to make the early inroads into the Indian top order.
While Nathan Lyon was leading wicket-taker in their previous Test series against Pakistan with 12 wickets and he is expected to their go-to man against Indian lineup. While Hazlewood and Cummins are two other bowlers in the lineup with the ability to break down partnerships at regular intervals.
Expected Playing XI
Aaron Finch, Marcus Harris, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Tim Paine (c) (wk), Nathon Lyon, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood