Does the Border-Gavaskar Trophy now rival the Ashes for most competitive rivalry in Australian cricket? The rampant Indian fans that filled the stadiums in the three match T20 series against India would certainly suggest so. Australia and India will do battle in a four-match Test series kicking off this Thursday, the 6th of December from Adelaide and we preview the 1st Test in full and give our betting tips below.
The two sides split the three match T20 series, taking one game each with the remaining game ending in a wash-out. The series draw adds more fuel to the fire that will be the four match Test series, getting underway in Adelaide on Thursday. Australia will be looking to avenge a 2-1 loss in the last Border-Gavasker Trophy, played in India back in 2017. Australia were successful in the first Test of the series before India went on to win two of the remaining three and take the trophy.
India will be the touring team this time around and while they did retain the trophy in 2003-04 when they drew 1-1 with Australia, they will be looking to claim their first outright series win down under. India will enter the series as favourites being the No.1 ranked Test team in the world at the moment and having lost just two of their last 13 Test series. Those losses came in South Africa and in England, which have easily been India’s toughest tests over the last four years.
After an unsuccessful trip to Pakistan that ended in a 1-0 series loss, the Australian’s will make a few changes to their line-up for the Adelaide Test. Opening batsman Marcus Harris has been brought into the squad for at least the first two Tests while fast bowler Chris Tremain, who has dominated the Sheffield Sheild season to date, also earns a call up.
It’s hard to get a handle on how the selectors will tinker with the Australian bating line-up given they have multiple options at the opening position. Aaron Finch, Marcus Harris are known openers but I think it’s more likely we see Usman Khawaja opening with Harris, allowing Finch to drop to his preferred position of number five, where he has played well for the Bushrangers in first class cricket. If the selectors opt for that, Shaun Marsh will likely take up the role at No.3, leaving the door ajar for either Peter Handscomb or Travis Head at number four with Mitch Marsh at No.6.
The bowling front looks much more cemented for the Aussies. The four frontline bowlers in Mitch Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon will all start in the Adelaide Test while Marsh will chip in valuable overs. Arguably the most important man in the Baggy Green, however, will be skipper Tim Paine, who has the tough Test of leading the team against the best Test side in the world.
India will roll out a batting line-up that has destroyed bowling attacks around the world for the better part of four years in their rise to the No.1 Test team in the world. Led by their superstar skipper Virat Kohli, who is currently the top ranked Test batsman in the world, the Indian batting line-up lost just 19 wickets and piled on 1,091 runs in their 2-0 Test series victory against West Indies in October.
Lokesh Rahul has been one of the dominant batsmen in the world in 2018 in all three forms of the game and will open the batting for India. The other opening slot has rotated throughout their last few Tests, with Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay and 18-year-old Prithvi Shaw all given the chance. With no Dhawan in the Test squad, it looks likely that Murali Vijay will get the first crack at the Aussies, especially given he has plundered 482 runs in four Tests in Australia at an average of 60.25.
The three and four spots in the Indian batting lineup will be held down by Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar. Sorry, did I say Dravid and Tendulkar? What I meant was Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli, the second coming of arguably the most dynamic top order batsman duo in history. Pujara and Kohli’s records speak for themselves, getting them out throughout this Australian summer is going to be an extremely tough task. Just when you think you have got through the worst of it, enter Ajinkya Rahane, who averages a lazy 57 in four Tests in Australia and wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant, who already boasts an average of 43.25 through five Tests at No.7.
To make matters worse fo rhte Aussies, India also posess two of the top 10 ranked Test bowlers in the world in Ravi Ashwin and Ravi Jadeja. It’s unlikely that they will both play in the same game until the Sydney Test which calls for two spinners, however, add a severly underrated pace attack led by one of the best quicks in the world in Jasprit Bumrah, and it’s no wonder that India are the No.1 ranked Test team in the world.
Adelaide Oval is probably not the most ideal place to kick off a Test series against the Indians. The Australians would have much preferred to get the series underway at Perth or the Gabba, where they might be able to fear the Indian top order with some pace and bounce. However, in South Australia, which is widely renowned as a batsman's paradise, it’s hard to imagine the Indians being rolled for less than 400 in the first innings whether they bat or bowl first.
Barring that both teams prove difficult to get out and the two sides play out a draw, we think there is virtually no way the Indians can lose this Test. On a Adelaide wicket that should suit batsman, the Indians will be happy to bat for multiple days to set up a commanding lead that should ensure either a win or a draw.
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