(Article contributed through S365-GBP by Sidharth Lodha)
There are no Tendulkar vs. Warne or Ganguly vs. McGrath battles to be seen. There is no talk about the ‘Final Frontier’ nor has anyone played any mind games by passing on strong comments about the other team. And yet, we do need to come to terms to the fact that it’s an India vs. Australia series that has begun.
While one team has gone in with three spinners the other has opted for a four-pronged pace attack. The captains too do not share a strong rivalry, while MS Dhoni is holding onto the last piece of support; Michael Clarke is also not as popular with the Australians.
The Indian side lacks the stalwarts of yesterday, the dressing room seems empty. The Australians have in their side names that might be something in years to come but for the time being they do not share the same aura that their predecessors had.
This series could be the last for Sachin Tendulkar in India, it could also be the last rope for Harbhajan Singh. Remember that epic spell by Ishant Sharma? Remember the Harbhajan Monkeygate? There were the Sourav Ganguly tricks to annoy Steve Waugh by coming late for the toss, there was Shane Warne planning to bowl a negative line to control Sachin. That’s all missing now!
We are fighting internal battles. We are hoping that Sehwag with his new spectacles to take care of his blurred vision can play for a couple of seasons. We are hoping Murali Vijay clicks and scores runs as fluently as he does in the IPL. We are hoping Ashwin finds form, we are wishing Bhuvaneshwar Kumar does well with the old ball.
The Australians; well they have a settled middle order with Shane Watson and Clarke holding it together while others rally around them. In James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc they have two outstanding quick bowlers who are ready to bend their back on placid Indian tracks. In Peter Siddle they have a bowler who can run in hard when the chips are down.
Some numbers to add to this drama:
- Sachin Tendulkar alone has scored more Test runs against Australia than the entire current Australian squad has scored against India- 3438 vs 2934
- Only four players of the current Australian squad have played a Test on the Indian soil – Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle.
We have no advantage of picking a Harbhajan in the team to cause any mental trauma. In fact, his naming in the playing XI two days before the Test was an attempt that fell flat!
If you look at the current form of the two sides; Australia might be fielding an A side but atleast they are winning.
Form guide (most recent listed first):
India: Drawn, Lost, Lost, Won, Won (2 wins, 2 losses)
Australia: Won, Won, Won, Lost, Drawn (3 wins, 1 loss)
India has started off decently though and it remains to be seen how well do the Australian batsmen cope up with the spinners. The two teams are evenly matched at mediocrity and do not have many special players currently in their teams, which will probably makes it a fascinating watch as sometimes two mediocre teams can give you just as much excitement as two special teams.
Being a hardcore Indian cricket fan, I’d still give this team a semblance of a chance and hope they do justice to the expectations of the fans. I predict a 1-2 India favouring result with a draw somewhere down the line. In reality, all I wish is to see some good Test cricket! Amen.
You can view the schedule for the India Australia series here.
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