Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team achieved history in 2018/19 as they became the first Asian side in history to win a Test series in Australia. In fact, when they won the ODI and Test series in that tour, India became only the second nation after South Africa to have won a series in all formats in Australia, with India also having won the multi-nation CB tri-series title in 2008 as well as a clean sweep in T20Is in 2016. That clean sweep was the first-time Australia had been ever whitewashed in any format at home. Heading into the current tour, the Indian cricket team are favorites to repeat their success of 2018/19.
The mood from the Australian camp is also cautious. Despite missing Rohit Sharma in the ODIs and T20Is and Virat Kohli for three out of the four Tests, Australia are not being aggressive and are cautious about their prospects. The depth of the Indian cricket team in both batting and bowling is something that the Australian team are not taking lightly at all heading into the series.
There is one more factor that has swung the advantage decisively to India’s favour. Glenn McGrath, the former Australia pacer, said in an interview with Times of India that there is no fear factor in Australian pitches when it comes to pace and bounce. “The pitches now are not as quick and bouncy but they are still quicker than India. When I started in ’93, each pitch in Australia had a character. WACA was quick and bouncy. Sydney took turn. Adelaide went u up and down on day 4 and 5. You got reverse swing at Gabba and MCG had its character. That made the Australian team so strong because we could adapt. By the end of my career, every pitch in Australia was identical. That had an impact on the next generation of players which is disappointing,” McGrath said.
Identical pitches and no fear
The statement by Glenn McGrath is a reflection of how overseas teams have found their new batting paradise in Australia when it comes to Tests. When it comes to the Indian cricket team, their batsmen have scored 13 centuries in Australia in this last decade. This is the joint-most with England but India have played fewer games as compared to England.
The overseas bowlers have managed to utilize the new Australian conditions better than the hosts. The Indian bowlers have taken 146 wickets in 40 Tests in the last decade in Australia while England have taken 163 wickets but they have played 47 Tests. When it comes to average and strike-rate, India is better than England and South Africa even when it comes to Australia.
In the last 20 years, there have been several players who have stepped up and boosted India in the batting department in Australia. Rahul Dravid’s 619 runs in four Tests in 2003/04 helped India draw the series 1-1. Although India lost in 2007/08 and 2014/15, Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli both aggregated over 500 and 600 runs. In 2018/19, Cheteshwar Pujara scored over 550 runs with three centuries and played a big role in India’s win.
However, it was the 48 wickets by Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami that helped India seal a famous win. The combined depth of India’s batting and bowling is what makes them favorites again heading into the series against Australia.
When it comes to the ODIs and T20Is, India’s superior batting and bowling gives them the upper hand. The IPL 2020 showed the vast array of depth in all departments and this gives them the upper-hand. In ODIs, with Kohli always reserving his best for Australia and with the finishing prowess of Hardik Pandya as well as the stability of KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer, makes India potent. The bowling is also in good hands thanks to Bumrah’s brilliant form in IPL 2020 where he took 27 wickets. Thus, Australia will have to pull out all the stops if they have to get over India.