England and Australia will continue to be traditional rivals as is the case with India and Pakistan. However, when it comes to Australia's sharpest opponents, India have to be at the top of the heap.
England and Australia will continue to be traditional rivals as is the case with India and Pakistan. However, when it comes to Australia's sharpest opponents, India have to be at the top of the heap. Another edition of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy will unfold at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Monday.
Doubtless, the need for India to make a good impression in the first Test is paramount. For, that could set the tone for the series. India have not been great in opening Tests over the years and when first Test defeats have been experienced, most of the series ended up lost.
There's no better recent and emphatic example than the last Test tour of England where Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men lost the Lord's Test before the series ended up in a 0-4 shellacking. For the record, India failed to make an impressive start to the 2007-08 series in Melbourne and lost it. Although their win in the third Test at Perth must go down as one of their most determined comeback wins.
So what's it about India's inability to get the first strike right? It may have to do with lack of acclimatisation and jitters. Or simply not being good enough. It's certainly not the case this time and Dhoni's men must believe this is their best chance to win a series in Australia, something India have not achieved since both countries first clashed in 1947-48.
Ian Chappell, the former Australia captain and this newspaper's columnist reckons the Indian team members will be "off their rockers" not to believe wholeheartedly that the Aussies can be conquered. The likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Zaheer Khan and the captain himself are too reputed not to have a Test series win in Australia on their cricketing CV. They owe it to themselves too.