Our prediction is that India would kick the series off the Test series with a win at Adelaide Oval.
The sideshows are done. The T20 internationals, the warm-up game, even the Australian media’s belittling of Indian cricket team when the media called them “Scaredy Bats”. It’s all done. Now the attention turns towards the big game; the game that matters; the game that will make or break this series for either team.
The media and public have their favorites. While it may all be a proven wrong if India fail to perform as well as they are predicted to, but there is no denying the fact that India comes into this series with a decent chance to end the 71-year wait of winning a Test series in Australia.
A lot has been talked about the players that are not playing, namely Smith and Warner, but not without a reason. They are such impact players that without them the experts are calling this Australian batting line up as ‘One Dimensional’. No offense to anyone but we know there is a problem in the batting lineup when we say the batting would revolve around Khawaja, Shaun Marsh and to some extent Paine in the lower middle order.
Bowlers on both sides look equipped enough to take 20 wickets with Australia having the benefit of experience and of knowing the home conditions better. This is going to be a battle of nerves as much as, if not more, the skills.
Ever since the 1-year ban on Smith, Warner, and Bancroft Australia are struggling to get their Test team combination settled. While it was the trio of Labuschagne, Finch, and Head that debuted in the two-match series against Pakistan, if things go well, Marcus Harris and even, Chris Tremain might make a debut at Adelaide.
Given the situation, a lot depends on the bowling attack now. Especial Mitchell Starc and Nathon Lyon who was instrumental in turning the tables the last time these two teams played at this venue. Khawaja is back fit again to provide the solidity at the top of the order.
Despite the chaos and the conflicts, Australia shouldn’t play as if they have to prove anything to anyone. They should play as the Australians do and while doing that they may not always win but they will be respected and that is no less a reward in the times like these.
Probable Starting XI: TD Paine (c&wk), AJ Finch, MS Harris, JR Hazlewood, UT Khawaja, NM Lyon, MR Marsh, SE Marsh, PM Siddle, MA Starc, CP Tremain
India must be under a completely different kind of pressure going into the first Test against Australia at Adelaide. For a change, for the first time in the last 71 years that is, they go in with a chance to win a Test series in Australia. The rank one team possesses the skills but having the nerve to cross the line would be crucial especially in the first Test which would set the tone for the rest of the series.
In 2014 at this venue, aided by Virat Kohli's twin centuries, India were on course to victory but failed to cross the line against Lyon and co. In the last three years, there have been numerous instances of India not crossing the line away from home, notably in the recent South Africa and England tours. The good part is India is getting closer to the line, again and again, and pushing for a win, not a draw, even when defeat is a definite possibility.
Prithvi Shaw has been ruled out of the first Test because of the ankle injury which gives KL Rahul a lifeline and settles the question of openers for the time being.
Probable Starting XI:V Kohli (c), AM Rahane, R Ashwin, JJ Bumrah, B Kumar, Mohammed Shami, RR Pant (wk), CA Pujara, KL Rahul, I Sharma, M Vijay
Adelaide is supposed to be a paradise for the batsmen once they get in. Virat Kohli knows a thing or two about the conditions here. Despite early assistance to seamers batting first would be the best approach at this venue for the pitch offers enough assistance to the spinners to force a result on the 4th and 5th day of the Test.
Australia find themselves in the conundrum as to whether to go for a pitch that offers help to their seamers or to go for a pitch that hides the flaws of the batsmen. For the sake competitive cricket Let’s hope it’s the former.
Virat Kohli loves the conditions at Adelaide. He has 4 centuries across the formats at of which 3 are in Tests and his average is a staggering 98.50 at this venue. He was an emerging player the last time India were here and today he is a successful skipper and the best batsman in the world. Kohli would not mind India starting this much-anticipated tour at his favorite venue.
The Test matches are defined by who wins the crucial moments in the match and India, compared to Australia, seem to have more such players for such moments when they come. Thus, our prediction is that India will secure a narrow win against the Aussies unless the hosts go defensive and curate a flat track which makes draw a realistic possibility.
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