India’s excellent run in the Test format continued in the recently concluded games against West Indies too, which came after a 4-1 loss in England.
India’s record of poor traveller still hurt them as they prepare for another away tour in Australia. The tour which is starting with T20 series followed by Tests and ODIs in January. This will be India’s best chance to win a test series in Australia and they will start the series as favourites. Aussies are in the process of rebuilding the team after the ball tampering incident forced Australia to make plenty of changes in the team and in Cricket Australia. The new captain Tim Paine and Coach Justin Langer are trying their best ways to bring back the team on track. Their first tour after the incident to UAE against Pakistan saw their batting collapsed in three of four innings.
Aussies batting failed against spin and pace in UAE. Every visiting team go through the struggles against in spin in subcontinent conditions. However, their collapse against pace bowling exposed how slow the team is progressing with the rebuilding.
India is touring Australia at a time where Aussies are not at their best. Well, it has nothing to take away the credit from Virat Kohli and team who are in good form over the last few years. Kohli has been consistent with the bat, Rahane, and Pujara has chipped in with vital contribution though they have to do that consistently in the next series. Rishabh Pant has been good with the opportunities he had in England. India has a new opener in Prithvi Shaw and Australia tour will be the one which will test his character. India’s pace bowlers have done well in the away series to South Africa and England, helping the team dominate at certain sessions of the game. India will once again rely on the pace bowlers in Australia to majority of the work in the bowling department.
With the conditions in India which favour pace bowling, India will be opting for three genuine fast bowlers and a pace bowling allrounder in Hardik Pandya as we have seen in England. With six genuine batsmen, the playing eleven will feature only one spinner as we have seen in South Africa and England.
There are three choices Virat Kohli has at the moment – Ashwin Ravichandran, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav. Who will feature in the playing eleven in Australia Test Series. Let’s have a look
Ashwin has been India’s premier spinner in the test format in home and away matches. He played ahead of other spinners in South Africa and England except for the matches he was out due to injury. His records are excellent with the ball with a total of 336 test wickets. He has taken 102 wickets away from India at an 31 and a strike rate of 62. His records in Ausrtalia doesn’t have any comparison to his overall performance with only 21 wickets at an average 54.71 and strike rate of 97.05. His best bowling figures read as 4/105.
R Jadeja his bowling partner in all home series also has a higher average(36) and strike rate (76) in the away test matches. Jadeja may make his first tour to Australia in 2018 considering his all-round performance in England and in the home series against West Indies. He has returned to the ODI team as well after long time indicates he is still in the scheme of things for Indian team management. Considering Kuldeep Yadav is young and inexperienced, he may not feature in the playing eleven.
It will be an interesting part to watch the team selection in Australia. India has done things differently with team selection in England leaving out Pujara in the opening test match and going ahead with two spinners in conditions which helped swing bowling a lot. In all scenarios, India may go with three bowlers leaving the questions whether it will be Ashwin or Jadeja to take up the spin bowling responsibility.
Ashwin gets the first priority in the normal scenario if we consider the previous tours to England and South Africa. However, Jadeja is right up there, presenting his case ahead of Ashwin with his excellent performance in England not only with ball but also with his improved batting skills. Ashwin had struggled in England and South Africa too. With not great records against his name in Australia, it may not be a surprise that Kohli may choose to go with Jadeja considering his improved show. Jadeja’s case for selection in the playing eleven may become more stronger if Kohli and management thinks about adding more depth to the batting against Australia’s top class pace bowling attack.