India and Australia play each other quite often these days but that has not diluted the anticipation of the contest between the two sides. India is going to tour Australia for a full tour starting the 21st of November.
The tour will feature three T20 Internationals, four Test Matches, and three ODI’s.
India, under Virat Kohli, has made it a big aim to start being successful overseas but has yet to deliver on that. The side put in improved performances in South Africa and England but was particularly unsuccessful in the Test matches.
It should be remembered, though, that India dominated South Africa in the ODI and T20 series, beat England in the T20 series and competed in each and every test match as well. This Indian side is a much-improved opponent away from home even though it is unlikely to get the recognition until it wins a test series against one of the bigger test nations abroad.
Australia is going to have to dig deep to defeat India. They have been rocked by the loss of Steve Smith and David Warner who were both their leading batsmen in every format of the game. A tough series loss to Pakistan in the UAE and being walloped by South Africa at home is going to make them wary of the challenge that India poses.
Let us have a look at the three formats and what we think is likely to happen.
India and Australia have played quite a bit of T20 cricket in the recent past and India has dominated that exchange pretty easily. 7 out of the last 8 completed matches between the two sides have been won by India.
This also includes a 3-0 win in Australia in 2016 the last tie India was here.
Australia, though, has changed as a team from that time. They have fast-tracked plenty of players who have done well in the Big Bash but that has yet to pay rich dividends. We believe Australia has a very good T20 side that is especially suited to succeeding in home conditions.
Both sides have a very good batting lineup with Australia having more power through its lineup thanks to players like Short, McDermott, Lynn, and Finch but India boasts of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli in supreme form. Add Shikhar Dhawan to that list and we think it is fair to say that India has the stronger top-order but Australia has more depth in its batting.
It will be very interesting to see if Ambati Rayadu is able to continue scoring runs in Australia because he is now the designated number 4 batsman. Rishab Pant could also find the bouncy surfaces a little more difficult to weather than what he has been exposed to till now.
India’s bowling resources are very deep at the moment. In Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, and Yuzvendra Chahal, the Indians have three of the best T20 bowlers in the world at the moment. The Indians played two wrist spinners in England but they may opt to go for an extra seamer in Australia.
Australia also has a very good bowling side to choose from in Billy Stanlake, Andrew Tye, Jason Behrendorff, Adam Zampa, and Nathan Coulter Nile.
The real advantage that the Aussies have is the presence of quality all-rounders like Stoinis, Maxwell, and Ashton Agar in the side.
For all the instant excitement that limited overs cricket brings, there is nothing quite like Test Match cricket. These four tests will determine whether India's tour to Australia is looked at as a success or failure.
Think about this for a moment: India won the ODI series 6-1 in South Africa but people still don’t call the tour a success because they lost the Test Matches 2-1.
The Indian team knows this and is hungry for success. What does India need to do better to win matches abroad? In one word, batting.
The Indian batting was horrendous in South Africa and England. Take Virat Kohli out of this discussion because he has been absolutely magical and you are left with nothing. The opening batsmen have been shuffled around constantly and we now have another new pair in Prithvi Shaw and KL Rahul.
Shaw had a good start to his career against a weak West Indies bowling attack at home. Facing the likes of Hazelwood, Starc, and Cummins in Australia is going to a completely different game altogether. KL Rahul played a possible career saving inning in the last test in England but failed at home against the West Indies.
For India to do well, its openers and Cheteshwar Pujara at number three must score runs. This sets up the platform for Kohli and Rahane at 4 and 5.
Kohli scored four test centuries in his last tour to Australia while Rahane played a few memorable innings as well. Both of them like the ball coming on to the bat and are not bothered about the short ball. We think they could do well in this series as well.
It will be interesting to see who India chooses to bat behind these two. Rishab Pant is a certainty in the side but he is not likely to bat 6. For number 6 we think Rohit Sharma will be given a chance ahead of Hanuma Vihari who did not do anything major wrong in the chances he was given.
India’s bowling is pretty potent thanks to the presence of Bumrah, Ishant, Shami, and one of Ashwin/Jadeja in the side. The fast bowlers were very good in both South Africa and England. If they can put in a similar performance in Australia then India is going to be in business.
Australia’s test bowling unit is one of the best in the world. Starc, Hazelwood, and Cummins won the Ashes for Australia by absolutely decimating the English batting. They will fancy themselves against an Indian side that has shown the proclivity to collapse while touring abroad.
The key will be to find a way to keep Virat Kohli quiet because he is the majority of the Indian batting alone, at least on current form. Nathan Lyon will also play a very important role in the test matches. He found a lot of success against India the last time they were there and did pretty well in India as well.
The real challenge for Australia will be to find problems to its batting. Aaron Finch is not the first choice opener in test matches even though he opened in the UAE. The conditions are expected to be more bowling friendly so he may revert back to a middle order batting position.
That could mean a spot opens up from Renshaw at the top alongside Usman Khawaja. There is an injury concern regarding Khawaja at the moment but reports suggest he will be fit before the first test against India.
Shaun Marsh, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, and Marnus Labuschagne formed the middle order in UAE. We think one of them will have to make way for Finch in the middle with the most likely candidate being Travis Head.
Tim Paine has made enough valuable contributions with the bat in UAE to secure his own place in the Australia side for the moment. Playing India without Warner and Smith is going to be a huge ask for Australia.
We believe this could be the best opportunity for India to win a series in Australia. Past results suggest, though, that India still needs to do a lot of work to emerge victorious.
A three-match ODI series at the end of a test series can seem like an after-thought. This series is going to be different, though.
This ODI series is going to be played in a World Cup year and so every result will be looked at closely. Teams will be trying to finetune its combinations as the ICC World Cup 2019 approaches in just a few months.
The ODI format is one where we believe that India will start as favorites even though they are playing in Australia. India has the two best ODI batsmen in the world right now. Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have been the two most dominant batsmen in this format over the last few years now.
In fact, it might be said that Rohit Sharma is unlucky to be playing in the same side as Virat Kohli because his own extraordinary achievements are overshadowed by Virat Kohli’s God like ODI form. Since Shikhar Dhawan also consistently features in the top-5 ODI batsmen of the world in the last three years or so, this Indian batting is near unstoppable.
The answer to India’s number 4 question also seems to have been answered thanks to the emergence of Ambati Rayadu and we don’t think that is going to change till the World Cup. With Dhoni at 5, Kedar Jadhav at 6, and Hardik Pandya at 7, India has a very deep batting lineup.
Hardik Pandya has not been named in the T20 or Test squad for Australia but is expected to be fit by the time the ODI series rolls around. His availability will also allow India to play two wrist spinners and two other fast bowlers like they prefer.
Australia will be worried that their ODI side is in severe disarray so close to the World Cup. South Africa exposed their shortcomings and even Aaron Finch admitted that some serious changes were needed. Australia seems to have tried to emulate the England model of picking batsmen that can keep on going hard throughout the inning but have not gotten the same results.
Australia has become a bit too predictable in the manner that they approach their inning which is allowing teams to plan well ahead in time. We think batsmen like Darcy Short, Shaun Marsh, and maybe Usman Khawaja need to be given an extended run in the side to try and get some stability in the top-order.
Currently, all the batsmen seem to be of an ultra-aggressive mindset without being able to pull that off with consistency in the international arena. Chris Lynn, Travis Head, and Glen Maxwell look like the players that are going to be under the most pressure to justify their places in the side heading into the ICC World Cup 2019.
Once again, the bowling is not too much of a concern for Australia. They have deep fast bowling resources and are helped by having quality all-rounders to bank upon as well.
The emergence of Marcus Stoinis as someone to depend upon helps add a lot of balance to the side. This is one series where India could blank out Australia completely.
We are expecting a really close series between these two teams as we have noted in our different previews. All of the formats will have it go to the wire as the teams seems to match each other quite well.
Australia has a slew of all-rounders ready to go to work in the T20 department, and we believe they should have the upper hand in that regard.
However, we do think that Virat Kohli's excellent ODI form, combined with the loss of Smith and Warner for Australia should tip the scale in the favour of India in the last two formats.
It is going to be an interesting tour down under, but we like India to end up the slight victor here.