India’s current tour down under has begun with the most ominous of signs, the tragic death of Phil Hughes, but it is imperative that they put this behind them as quickly as possible.
Four tests, four ODIs and at least six ICC World Cup fixtures is what lies on their plate, a meal that’ll keep them in the island nation until at least the 14th of March and possibly until the 29th of March 2015. It all begins on Tuesday, the 9th of December at the Adelaide Oval. It is still unsure as to who will lead India in this first test but both Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni would be eager to start this mission on a positive note.
Traditionally, Indians have been slow starters and even though a four test series does give an opportunity for the trailing side to bounce back, losing the first match would massively dent the team’s confidence at the start of a very important period.
Varun Aaron’s fiery pace and consistency in both the warm up games has given the team a happy problem of team selection. Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar look almost certain to play, Ishant Sharma’s experience and promising record in Australia should be enough for him to be in the playing XI and so Aaron’s performance may force India to play four pacers in the first game.
For the first time ever in the history of the game, India can be proud of the fact that they possess some serious venom in their pace attack with all the pacers in the squad except Bhuvneshwar Kumar capable of consistently hitting speeds of more than 140 Kph.
The batting department also looks promising with both Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane making light work of the Aussie quicks in the two warm up games. Kohli would also be especially relieved with the relative lack of swing in Australia, a weapon that ended his purple patch of form in England earlier this year. Cheteshwar Pujara and Rohit Sharma would also be looking to silence their critics after a particularly disappointing England tour for them.
The ODI tri-series that also involves England, immediately follows the four test matches. India will have to change gears for the penultimate part of the tour by then. The tri-series should enable them to adapt to the shorter format and prepare as they defend the ICC Cricket World Cup.
Most people would expect India to at worst, reach the Quarter Finals with qualifying matches against U.A.E., Ireland and Zimbabwe to assist. The team must, however, use the tri-series to ascertain a winning combination because beyond the Quarter-Finals there’s sure to be a much tougher test awaiting them.
All the cricketing nations would have noted a completely new India side, without the likes of Tendulkar, Ganguly, Laxman, Zaheer, Harbhajan, Gambhir and Sehwag but Indian cricket fans always expect their team to win and after winning the World Cup four years ago, the expectations are only going to be higher this time around. Whatever the result of this tour be, it is sure to be talked about for long, so here’s the opportunity for this lively, young, Indian team to write their names in the record books.