Australia vs India 2018-19: Previewing the Test series
2018, the year that promised a lot to Indian fans, has so far been a year of frustration. After two Test series losses away from home, the Indian team have finally arrived in Australia.
Though Virat Kohli's men lost their away series in South Africa and England, they impressed everyone with the way their pace attack turned up during those Tests. I have been a follower of the team for over a decade now, and I have never seen five Indian bowlers bowling at around 140 km/h as consistently and effectively as they did in South Africa and England.
Many believe that this is India's best chance of winning a Test series Down Under. The current Australian side is probably the weakest in about five decades that will face India this season.
But leaving aside everything that has happened in Australian cricket off the field, regarding the bans to Steve Smith and David Warner, let us focus on the current Australian team that will take the field tomorrow.
Of all the departments, their batting looks the most vulnerable. Out of their six batsmen, Shaun Marsh is the only well-established Test batsman. Marcus Harris is set to make his debut, and will open with Aaron Finch who, like Travis Head, has only done well in limited overs cricket so far.
Usman Khawaja and Peter Handscomb, who have been in and out of the Australian side, have returned and are set to bat in the middle order.
The Australian pace attack, however, is probably the best pace attack in their conditions. India's batsmen would need to be at their best to score big against the likes of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazelwood, Pat Cummins and Nathon Lyon.
For India, their pace bowling looks alright and is expected to pose serious threats to the weakened Aussie batting lineup. But the fate of India in Australia will largely depend on the performances of their batsmen.
It is their batting that let them down in South Africa and England. No batsman other than Kohli was able to score runs on a consistent basis, and that led to a string of undesirable results.
This Indian batting lineup has the experience of scoring runs in Australia, with the likes of KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane getting hundreds on the 2014-15 tour and Murali Vijay also having chipped in with some useful contributions.
Keeping all these factors in mind, India will start as slight favourites. But we should expect a highly competitive Test series considering Australia are playing in their home conditions, which they know like the back of their hands.