India's Test Squad for Australia: SWOT Analysis
Virat Kohli's boys, who are currently coming off a dominant home win against West Indies in Test matches and ODIs, are all set for their next biggest assignment- the tour to Down Under.
Along with South Africa, Australia has been one of those places where India have never won a Test series. In fact, they have not won a single Test in their previous two tours to Australia. The last Test victory in Australia for India came in 2008 at Perth.
Not having history on their side, India would look to change the fortunes this time around. And there is no reason why they cannot go ahead and win the series this time. The first Test begins on Dec 06, 2018 at Adelaide. Here is a detailed look of the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats for the squad:
Full Squad: Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Prithvi Shaw, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rishabh Pant (wk), Parthiv Patel (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvaneswar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav
STRENGTHS: The Indian team looks like a well-oiled machine, with a balanced look and all bases covered.
The most impressive aspect of this squad is the bench strength, especially as far as the fast bowlers are concerned. All of them have the ability to make into the first choice playing XI. Therefore in case of injuries, there will be plenty of options available for the captain, without compromising with quality.
Almost every player goes into the series on the back of some terrific performances both at home and abroad. In fact, the last tours to England and South Africa were a testament of their abilities.
In the batting department, Kohli is in form of his life, and Rahane and Vijay also have a very good record in Australia. The addition of Prithvi Shaw makes the top order exciting as Shaw brings in with him his dynamic style of play.
WEAKNESSES: From what was evident from the tours to South Africa and England earlier this year, the top order is the biggest area of concern for India. Good start with the bat has always been the key to India's overseas success in the past and the absence of it the key to failure.
Both Vijay and Rahul are terribly out of form and they need to turn it around for India to have good results. One thing that might haunt the team is the record of spinners overseas. Both Ashwin and Jadeja haven't been even half as successful overseas as they have been at home.
The batting unit must avoid collapses, which led to the series loss in 2013-14. Despite dominating the majority of the series, one bad session with the bat cost India the series.
Catching is another aspect that this team needs to focus on. Though India are currently one of the best fielding sides in the world, their slip catching has not been up to the mark in the past few years. The wins have overshadowed this weakness to a large extent, but a team like Australia in their own backyard won't let go such opportunities.
One major weakness which has been traditionally associated with India is the inability to get the tail out quickly. This was the primary reason of India not winning overseas Tests despite being in dominating positions. The current team needs to take care of that.
OPPORTUNITIES: This is probably the best chance India have got till date to beat Aussies in their own backyard. The Aussies are in a transitional phase following the tampering saga.
The absence of Smith and Warner is surely a huge opportunity for the Indians to take advantage of a relatively inexperienced Australian batting.
An aggressive looking Indian side, looking to make a habit of winning, will go into the series with a confidence of giving the English and Proteas tough competition in their own backyard. Moreover, the variety that this squad possesses is certainly any top team in the world would love to have.
THREATS: The Aussies are a side known for never giving up. As evident from the drawn match against Pakistan last month, the Aussies even without their captain and vice-captain, are still tough nuts to crack.
One issue for India might be the team combination. Earlier tours of England and South Africa showed how improper team combination cost India. The five bowler strategy has been effective in getting the 20 wickets but has left the team with one batsman short, especially when the top order looks out of sorts.
If India don't get their combination right, there will be plenty to ponder about as the series goes ahead.