The much-awaited India’s tour to Australia commences in November with the ODI series. The Test tour starts from December, and some very interesting choices have been made by the selectors for this all-important rivalry.
The Virat Kohli-led side is on top of the World Test Championship with 360 points. However, they were clean swept in New Zealand in the two-match Test series in early 2020. This series is extremely important from the WTC point of view, as only the top 2 teams qualify to play the Finals at Lord’s
Kohli became the first Indian captain to lead India to a Border Gavaskar Trophy victory in Australia in the 2018/19 season, winning 2-1. However, with the return of Steve Smith and David Warner, Australia are a lot more lethal than they were back then. This series shall be a treat to watch for Test cricket fans.
Here’s India’s Predicted XI in Tests for Australia series
1. Mayank Agarwal
Karnataka opener Mayank Agarwal has been India’s first-choice opener in the longest format ever since he made his debut. With 974 runs in 11 Tests at an average of 57.29, he has certainly established himself firmly in the team after years of grinding it out in the domestic circuit. He has five Test centuries to his name, with two of them being double tons.
Agarwal made his Test debut in the Boxing Day Test a couple of years ago, and he did not disappoint. He scored 76 & 42 after replacing comrade KL Rahul as the opener, who had a disappointing series last time around. He followed it up with another half-century at the SCG in the first innings. He was certainly among the major positives for India in their success in 2018-19.
He maintained this consistency in the matches to follow as well, scoring double hundreds against South Africa and Bangladesh in the home season. However, in New Zealand, he played well in the first Test with scores of 34 & 58 in his first tour there. He failed to perform in the next match, getting dismissed early for just 7 & 3 runs.
2. Prithvi Shaw
Touted as the next Sachin Tendulkar in the Mumbai cricket circles, Shaw has been in the news ever since his school cricket days. He made his Test debut against West Indies in 2018, scoring 134 off just 154 balls. Shaw has scored 335 runs in 4 Tests at an average of 55.83- with one 100 and two 50s to his name.
Shaw is a naturally aggressive player, and there has been a lot of hype around him. He is among the few batsmen who have not played Test cricket in Australia. After his explosive debut against West Indies, he was expected to play in the Australia tour. He suffered a ligament injury in the practice match against Cricket Australia XI, which ruled him out of the tour.
Since the Australia tour, Shaw was unfortunate to not get any more chances in the home series. Rohit Sharma settled in as the opener with Mayank Agarwal, before he was injured for the NZ Tests. Shaw then got an opportunity, and he scored 98 runs in 4 innings. His top-score was a breezy 54 at Hagley Oval.
3. Cheteshwar Pujara
Cheteshwar Pujara is among the very few batsmen who have just specialized in Tests for India over the past decade. Without a shred of doubt, it can be said that he is probably the best batsman in the team after Virat Kohli. Pujara has 5840 runs in 77 Test matches at an average of 48.67- with 18 100s and 25 50s.
Pujara was the leading run-scorer and the Man of the Series when India won their first Test series Down Under. He has been a pivotal part of India’s Test side under Virat Kohli and had delivered on countless occasions. Pujara has 722 runs in 7 Tests in Australia at an average of 55.54 with three 100s and two 50s.
However, his form in the World Test Championship has been a cause 0f concern for the Indian team. He has scored 414 runs in 9 matches at an average of less than 30. He hasn’t scored a hundred yet in the tournament. Besides, he also failed in New Zealand- scoring 100 runs in 4 innings. For India to win, Pujara has to stay at the crease for long periods of time.
4. Virat Kohli (C)
India’s most successful test captain Virat Kohli is the team’s most experienced Test batsman. He would be looking to win the Border Gavaskar Trophy in Australia for the 2nd consecutive time. However, it is not going to be easy this time around for Kohli and his men, with Steve Smith and David Warner back. Kohli has amassed 7240 runs in 86 Tests at a mind-boggling average of 53.63.
Kohli is among India’s most successful batsmen ever in Australia across all formats. He averages 55.39 in 12 Test Matches, with 6 centuries to his name. He made his maiden hundred in Adelaide- a gritty 116 against all odds. Some of his other memorable performances include the twin hundreds in Adelaide 2014 in a losing cause, 169 in MCG 2014, and most recently 123 in Perth 2019.
Virat is currently 2nd on the ICC Test Rankings for batsmen, only behind his Aussie counterpart Steve Smith. He has 627 runs in 13 Tests at an average of 52.25 in the ongoing ICC World Test Championship, with a career-best 254* against South Africa. However, he failed to perform in the New Zealand tour- scoring just 38 runs in 4 innings as India lost the series 2-0.
5. Ajinkya Rahane (VC)
Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane has been another core member of the Indian Test team in the next generation after the likes of Tendulkar, Dravid, and Laxman retired. He has performed for India in multiple tough situations, especially away from home. He remains the batsman with the highest Test average away from home in the current playing XI. Rahane has scored 4203 runs in 65 Tests at an average of 42.89- with 11 tons and 22 fifties.
Rahane had an okayish series last time in Australia. He scored 217 runs in 7 innings at an average of 31. His most notable contribution was in the 2nd innings of the Adelaide Test where he scored 70 runs and along with Pujara took India to 307, setting up a target of 323 for Australia. He also scored a fifty in the first innings of the Perth Test. He performed brilliantly in the 2014/15 Test Series.
Being the vice-captain, he shall play a crucial role in decision making. He has assisted Kohli brilliantly ever since Kohli was made the Test captain. He has scored 715 runs in 11 Tests at an average of just under 60 in the World Test Championship. He was also among the players who had a good knock in New Zealand but could not continue the same form in the rest of the series. He had 91 runs in 4 innings.
6. Hanuma Vihari
Hanuma Vihari has been around with the Indian Test team for the past couple of years. He made his Test debut against England in 2018 at the Oval and notched a half-century in the first innings, batting at number 6. He has scored 552 runs in 9 Tests at an average of 36.80. A handy part-time off-spinner, he has taken 5 wickets as well.
Vihari did not do badly in the Australia tour considering the circumstances. He scored 111 runs in 5 innings with a top-score of 42. He was given the challenging task of opening the batting in the 3rd Test along with Mayank Agarwal. He did a decent job of seeing off the new ball in both the innings, which made things simpler for the batsmen to follow.
He has highly impressive numbers at number 6. 512 runs in 12 innings with 1 century and 4 half-centuries- all of which came in foreign conditions. If the management backs him consistently, expect him to come in handy once again.
7. Rishabh Pant (wk)
Wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant was the second-highest run-scorer for India in the last Border Gavaskar Trophy. Rishabh Pant made his Test debut at Trent Bridge in 2018. Since then, he has done well to fill the wicket-keeper slot in the longest format. He has 814 runs in 13 matches at an average of 38.76- with two 100s and two 50s to his name.
Pant scored 350 runs in 7 innings at an average of 58.33, impressing everyone in a challenging series. His most memorable performance came in SCG, where he scored 159* off just 189 deliveries- batting at number 7. In the rest of the games, he chipped in with valuable 20s and 30s lower down the order.
Unfortunately, Pant has been out of form in recent times. He has even been dropped from the limited-overs squads. His fitness has been a major cause of concern, especially this year. He also scored just 60 runs in 4 innings in New Zealand, and would be looking to repeat the heroics of the last tour.
8. Ravindra Jadeja
Ravindra Jadeja has been a crucial part of many Test wins for the Indian Cricket team. He broke into the national side as a batsman in 2012 but has been utilized by both MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli primarily as a bowling all-rounder. Jadeja has 213 wickets and 1869 runs in 49 Tests, as a reason for which he has been among the best all-rounders of Test Cricket in the past decade.
Jadeja played 2 Test Matches in the previous Australia tour, scoring 90 runs in 3 innings and taking 7 wickets. His best performance with the bat was 81* in the Sydney Test. With the ball, his best performance came in the 2nd innings at MCG- figures of 3/82 (Harris, Marsh, Paine).
He brings in a left-arm option among all the right-arm pacers, which is why he could be given the nod over Ravichandran Ashwin. Ashwin has also been poor with the bat in Tests since 2017, which weakens the lower middle-order of the team. Jadeja played one Test in New Zealand where he took two wickets in 15 overs and scored 9 and 16* respectively. His performance has been good in the home Tests but it is yet to be seen how he does in Australia.
9. Umesh Yadav
Umesh Yadav is expected to be India’s third pacer for the Border Gavaskar Trophy owing to Ishant Sharma’s injury. Yadav has picked 144 wickets in 46 Tests at an average of 30.47 and a strike-rate of 51.27.
Yadav has taken 27 wickets in 8 Test Matches Down Under at an average of over 45. He wasn’t exactly impressive on his first tour there in 2011-12, where the entire team failed to make a mark.
Umesh has been used as a pacer for the Home Tests under Virat Kohli’s captaincy. However, he played one game in New Zealand where took two wickets. His form shall be crucial for India’s chances.
10. Mohammed Shami
Mohammed Shami is India’s most experienced pacer on this tour, with Ishant Sharma’s injury. Shami has done well for India across all formats in the past couple of years. He has 180 wickets to his name in 49 Tests at an average of 27.36 and a strike-rate of 49.43.
Shami picked up 16 wickets at an average of 26.19 last time in the Border Gavaskar Trophy. His best figures came in Perth, where he picked a 6 wicket haul in the second innings. He has played 7 Tests in Australia in his career, and has picked 31 wickets at an average of just under 31.
With the absence of Ishant Sharma, his role in the team becomes even more important. He will be expected to lead the bowling attack with the experience he has on offer. Shami also had a tough time in the NZ Tests, picking up just 5 wickets in the 2 matches.
11. Jasprit Bumrah
One of the world cricket’s best pacers at the moment, Bumrah has had an exceptional start to his Test career. He made his Test debut in the South Africa tour and got the prized possession of AB de Villiers as his first Test wicket. He has 68 wickets to his name in 14 Tests at an average of just 20.34 and an incredible strike-rate of 45.31.
Bumrah has been Virat’s go-to man across all formats for the Indian Cricket Team. The last time he toured Australia, it was no different as he took 21 wickets in 4 games at a staggering average of just 17. It is a dream for every bowler to taste success on away Test tours, and Bumrah certainly capitalized on that opportunity last time around.
He is currently India’s highest-ranked Test bowler in the ICC Test Rankings at number 9. India has been managing his work-load very carefully. He did not feature in any of the home Tests in the World Test Championship. In the New Zealand tour, he didn’t perform to the best of his abilities- taking 6 wickets at an average of 31.67. His form shall be vital for India’s chances Down Under.
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
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