India must seize Australian opportunity

December 13, 2011
Dravid

by Vikas

India have yet to win a Test series in Australia and they will never get a better chance when they face a fragile Australian line up in a four Test match series starting on Boxing day at the MCG.

When Australia got bowled out for 47 against South Africa it was thought that life could not get more embarrassing for the side from down under. They were wrong. Losing to a Kiwi side at home for the first time in 26 years surpasses this feet. New Zealand are ranked eighth in the world in Test cricket, and they sit just above Bangladesh which is certainly nothing to write home about. Even Blackburn Rovers’ form looks good compared to that of Bangladesh.

Australia appear to be currently relying on fast bowlers under the age of 21, and off spinner who has played a handful of Tests, and an opening batsman that is a Twenty20 specialist to dig them out of chronic situations in Test matches. India must go to Australia and win this Test series if they are to be considered a top playing Test nation in my opinion.

One thing that India will have to cope with better is their ability to play the rising ball. Australia would have tuned into what happened to India in the UK, and will prepare their playing surfaces accordingly. Rahul Dravid was the only Indian batsman to walk away from England with his head held high.

Spinners, Pragyan Ojha and R Ashwin have been the chief tormentors in Indian conditions in recent times, but I expect that playing both men in Australian conditions in unrealistic. India will have to adopt three seamers on wickets that will have a tinge of grass on them. Duncan Fletcher will be preying that Zaheer Khan recovers from injury in time for the first Test because without him, India are not a potent bowling attack away from the sub-continent.

One thing that India need to be careful of, is not breeding their younger players into Test cricket all at the same time, much like Australia did in 2007 when several great players retired after the Ashes. Virat Koli and Rohit Sharma have demonstrated that they are high quality international batsman and appear to hold the key for India’s future success in the game. Duncan Fletcher may have to make the biggest call of his coaching life in leaving one of the great players out of the side, in order to stagger this transition, and promote Indian cricket in the future. I suspect this will happen at the conclusion of the Australian series rather than prior to it.

It should be a fascinating series and all eyes will be on Tendulkar as he remains on 99 International hundreds. Who would bet against a Tendulkar ton at a packed MCG on Boxing Day? One contest that I am looking forward to greatly is Virnder Sehwag against new sensation James Pattinson. Pattinson has the pace to cause Sehwag problems, but one thing he must do is find some sideways movement. This can be in the air, or off the pitch, but without this, Sehwag could ruin Pattinson’s early exceptional statistics in Test match cricket very very quickly.

The Scoop 13/12/2011

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