The wait is finally over, tomorrow morning this highly-anticipated test series will get underway at the Adelaide Oval where Indian supporters will flock to see their superstar captain lead his side. Australia may not have their strongest team on the park, but that certainly doesn’t change the importance of this series. Hell-bent on keeping the Indians winless in Australia, this could be just what the hosts needed to regain that competitive edge they once possessed.
It’s just what Australia didn’t need before arguably one of the most anticipated test series on the International calendar in 2018-19. Terrorism allegations against Usman Khawaja’s brother earlier this week will undoubtedly be playing on the 31-year-olds mind, but it’s unknown as to what extent. Giving off the vibe that he’s a fairly mellow, laid-back cricketer could work in Khawaja’s favour, but it’s still a terrible thing to have lodged into your conscience while trying to perform for your country. The best Australia can do is rally around their teammate and give him support, their main priority however will still be beating India. If their batsmen can show some fight like in that second innings of the first test against Pakistan a couple months back, they’re in with a chance. The Aussies remain the favourites at home, but this Indian team is set to push the hosts to the absolute limit & beyond.
They’ll be praying that Shaun Marsh finds form early in the series with the bat, he had a horrific-run in the U.A.E and will no-doubt be looking to make up for it against India. Adelaide is the perfect venue to regain some batting form, Marsh managed a century at this venue in last year’s Ashes series which should give him some confidence. The addition of Marcus Harris who’s set to debut for Australia tomorrow should push Khawaja back down to No. 3 and Shaun Marsh just below him at No. 4. All-rounder Mitchell Marsh was the unlucky one to miss out as Peter Handscomb and Travis Head make up the rest of the batting order. It’s no secret that Virat Kohli’s wicket is a potential game-breaker, but getting it is a whole nother story. Mitchell Starc might be the Aussies best bet, full deliveries seem to catch the Indian skipper off-guard every now and then. There’s a catch though, overpitch and he’ll put you away. Australia’s best test off-spinner Nathan Lyon should play another crucial part in this first test, he’s in red-hot form in first-class cricket having taken 20 wickets in three matches for NSW.
You can almost sense the Indians eagerness to get onto Adelaide Oval and show Australia what they’re made of. A series win in Australia is long overdue, in fact they’ve never won a series down under which wouldn’t sit well with Indian skipper Virat Kohli. Young-gun & opening batsman Prithvi Shaw has been ruled out of the first test after injuring his ankle in a tour match in Sydney, but his replacement in the form of Murali Vijay managed 129 off 132 balls in the second innings of that game. Vijay’s century in the tour match should confirm his spot in the XI heading into tomorrow’s first test on a brilliant batting deck in Adelaide. Both Cheteshwar Pujara and captain Virat Kohli are run-scoring beasts in test cricket, Pujara averages 55.05 against Australia and Kohli 50.84. Slightly deviating, Rohit Sharma’s last test for India was almost a year ago against South Africa which is strange in itself given his presence in ODI and T20I cricket.
With the Indian XI not yet confirmed, it appears likely that the visitors will go into this Adelaide test with three specialist seamers and one spinner. Given Ravi Ashwin’s impressive record against Australia, that should be enough to consolidate his spot in the side as the specialist spinner. Speedster Umesh Yadav will be unlucky to miss out, but it appears likely that India’s fast bowling unit will consist of Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma for the first test. India will also have their work cut out for them with the bat despite their classy top order. It’s never easy coming up against a pace attack featuring Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, but India somehow manages to make it look like child’s play at times. Wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant batting down the order is a real luxury, the 21-year-old averages 52.25 in first-class cricket and already has a century to his name for India as well. Virat and Pujara will determine the outcome of this match, Adelaide is a tremendous batting venue under blue skies and warm weather which should suit this pair to a T.
Top 5 fantasy picks | Australia | 1st test | Adelaide
- Shaun Marsh
- Nathan Lyon
- Usman Khawaja
- Mitchell Starc
- Travis Head
Wildcard pick – Marcus Harris
Top 5 fantasy picks | India | 1st test | Adelaide
- Virat Kohli
- Cheteshwar Pujara
- Mohammed Shami
- Ravi Ashwin
- Murali Vijay
Wildcard pick – KL Rahul
Australia – 1. Marcus Harris 2. Aaron Finch 3. Usman Khawaja 4. Shaun Marsh 5. Peter Handscomb 6. Travis Head 7. Tim Paine (c & wk) 8. Mitchell Starc 9. Pat Cummins 10. Nathan Lyon 11. Josh Hazlewood.
India (possible) – 1. KL Rahul 2. Murali Vijay 3. Cheteshwar Pujara 4. Virat Kohli © 5. Ajinkya Rahane 6. Hanuma Vihari/Rohit Sharma 7. Rishabh Pant (wk) 8. Ravi Ashwin 9. Ishant Sharma/Umesh Yadav 10. Mohammed Shami 11. Jasprit Bumrah.