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India vs Australia 2017: 5 key player battles to watch out for

These mouth-watering individual contests could very well decide the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

Top 5 / Top 10 19 Feb 2017, 08:46 IST
Virat Kohli Steve Smith
Virat Kohli and Steve Smith are the fulcrums driving their respective teams

Unlike most other series, there is an additional sense of palpable excitement surrounding an India-Australia clash. More so in the recent past wherein fierce passages of play and verbal dosages have added to the drama.

Even though the home team has usually dominated proceedings during the last nine years or so, some fascinating sub-plots have resulted in several close contests. The upcoming 4-match series is expected to be another intense battle for the prestigious Border-Gavaskar Trophy. At the very least, Australia need a drawn score line to prevent odds-on favourites India from wresting back the trophy.

Here are five extremely important player battles which could very well decide this series.

#5 Josh Hazlewood vs Cheteshwar Pujara

Cheteshwar Pujara
Pujara has had some issues against the in-swinging delivery

Although their on-field demeanour might be completely different, Pujara and Hazlewood have plenty of similarities in their playing styles. While the former with his stoic approach remains the bulwark of India's batting lineup, the latter's persistence has seen him become the top ranked fast bowler in Tests.

Hazlewood’s metronomic accuracy has served as an ideal foil for the aggression of Mitchell Starc. The manner in which he made Pakistan's Babar Azam repeatedly fall over in the recent series suggests that the right-armer is rapidly evolving into a highly intelligent cricketer.

Even though Pujara is a far more accomplished batsman, he has had his issues against the in-swinging delivery from over the wicket. The visitors should be seeking his early dismissal for once he gets his eye in, they will truly feel the heat.

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