Buoyant India take on aggressive Australia in series opener
On a fairytale 19-match unbeaten streak, India would seek extension of their incredible dominance on home turf when they clash against an aggressive Australia in the four-Test series, beginning here tomorrow
Team India A during a practice session with Australia. Pic/PTI
Pune: On a fairytale 19-match unbeaten streak, India would seek extension of their incredible dominance on home turf when they clash against an aggressive Australia in the four-Test series, beginning here tomorrow.
The series against the Steve Smith-led side is the fourth and last home series of the 2016-17 season for India, who have conjured up emphatic victories over New Zealand (3-0), England (4-0) and Bangladesh (one-off Test).
India are going into the rubber, seeking their seventh successive series win going back to the three-Test away series against Sri Lanka in 2015.
Australian team players during a practice session with India. Pic/PTI
There are several factors in India's stupendous run, chief among those being captain Virat Kohli's phenomenal run with the bat. The young captain has truly led from the front by notching up four double hundreds.
Kohli is averaging over 80 after accumulating 1457 runs in the last 13 Tests and Australia will need to find ways to curtail his brilliance to stop the Indian Juggernaut.
The other major factor has been the excellent bowling by spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, incidentally the top two bowlers in the ICC rankings.
Off-spinner Ashwin has grabbed 78 wickets in 13 games during the same period with 8 five-fors at an average of just over 24 while left-armer Jadeja has scalped 49 wickets in 10 Tests at just under 25.
The spin twins, who combined forces to rout New Zealand and England, again pose a major threat to the Australians.
In addition to these three players' consistent performance, the support from batsmen such as opener Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara and from other bowlers has been invaluable. The stubborn lower-order batting has often helped the team come out of tricky situations and score big.
As coach Anil Kumble pointed out yesterday, India have not fielded the same eleven during this successful phase due to a variety of reasons including injuries. But each replacement has been bang-on and delivered the goods.
India's unbeaten 19-Test run commenced with a victory in the second Test of the series in Sri Lanka.