Cricket Australia, on Thursday, announced a 17-member Australian Test squad for the four-match Test series against India, which will kick-off with the Day/Night encounter at Adelaide on December 17.
Youngsters Will Pucovski and Cameron Green find a place in the Australian Test squad for the high-profile India series, as do pacers Sean Abbott, Michael Neser and spinner Mitch Swepson. Tim Paine keeps his job as Australia’s Test skipper while experienced fast bowler Pat Cummins has been picked as his deputy.
22-year-old Pucovski broke into the Australian Test squad on the back of having notched up 495 runs in two Sheffield Shield matches, including two double centuries.
Green has also been in great form, having scored 363 runs for Western Australia, including a career-best 197 against New South Wales. Before being chosen in the Australian Test squad, Green was already included in Australia’s white-ball squads for the India series.
As Australia prepare to exact revenge for their Test series loss in 2018-19, we perform a SWOT analysis of the Australian Test squad for the upcoming series against India.
#1. Strengths: Proven performers in Australian Test squad with great record against India
While one cannot take anything away from India’s historic Test series win in 2018-19, the fact remains that the triumph came against a weakened Aussie outfit. With David Warner and Steve Smith in the playing eleven, Australia will be a completely different proposition this time round, particularly at home. While Warner has an excellent record against India in Australia, Smith loves the Indian attack irrespective of the venue.
Though Warner has a poor average of 24.25 from eight Tests in India, the same rises to 49.50 when one only considers home Tests. In eight matches, the left-hander the smashed the Indian attack for 693 runs, registering as many as four fifties. He will be a massive player for Australia yet again.
As for Smith, he averages a whopping 769 runs from four Tests during the series played back in 2014-15. Smith hammered four hundreds back then. Even in India, he has an average of 60 from six Tests with three hundreds. He will be raring to have a go at his favorite opponents again.
Although Marnus Labuschagne has played only one Test against India, he will be high on confidence following his heroics in the Ashes and the home series against New Zealand. From just 14 matches, Labuschagne has 1,459 runs to his name at an exceptional average of 63.43.
In the bowling department, Nathan Lyon and Pat Cummins have had their moments against India playing at home.
#2. Weaknesses: Opening partnership, too many newcomers in Australian Test squad
While Warner is tipped to excel, his opening partner to be chosen from the Australian Test squad remains a matter of concern. Joe Burns has scored just 57 runs in five Sheffield Shield innings, so his place in the playing eleven is under serious threat.
Also, one gets the feeling that while Australia have rewarded cricketers for their domestic performances, there are too many rookies in the Australian Test squad for a massive series like the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Green, Pucovski, Abbott, Neser and spinner Mitch Swepson are yet to make their Test debut for Australia, which could hurt the Aussies in critical situations.
#3. Opportunities: Kohli’s unavailability for three Tests
Last time around, the Australia Test squad did not have the services of Warner and Smith. For the latest series, India will be without skipper Virat Kohli for the majority of the Test series. Kohli will be flying back to India after the Adelaide game for the birth of his first child.
Kohli’s absence will give the Australian Test squad a massive edge. Rohit Sharma will be available, but his fitness, coupled with his poor Test record in Australia, remains a worry. Mayank Agarwal made a memorable Test debut Down Under last time, but the Aussies would be better prepared for him this time.
Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane is not quite the prolific scorer he was a few years back, which means there will be additional pressure on 2018-19 hero Cheteshwar Pujara to carry the batting on his shoulders again.
#4. Threats: India’s lethal pace bowling
The biggest test for the Australians will be posed by the Indian pace bowling attack, which is considered one of the best in the business on current form. Although they couldn’t bowl India to victory in the short Test series in New Zealand, there is no doubting the quality of the Indian pace attack.
Jasprit Bumrah has gone from strength to strength ever since making his Test debut while Mohammed Shami has reinvented himself brilliantly over the last couple of seasons. Also, Umesh Yadav may have struggled in the IPL, but he has the capability to make up for Ishant Sharma’s absence in case the latter fails to recover in time.Published 13 Nov 2020, 15:23 IST