Right, the focus now shifts to Test cricket and the 13th Border-Gavaskar Trophy, which will be competed for by India and Australia from 23rd February. The excitement for IPL auction 2017 was palpable and understandable, but the players, whether they landed lucrative IPL contracts or went unsold like Ishant Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara among others, need to focus on the longest and purest format of cricket for the next five weeks.
Australia and India almost always serve up an exhilarating contest, though the last two Test series between these two sides have been less so, and this upcoming four-Test series should be no different. Expect tempers to flare and be an integral element to the rivalry that India vs Australia has been over the years.
The first Test of the series will be played at a new Test venue in India, the MCA Stadium in Pune, where the pitch for many ODI and T20I matches involving India in recent times has tended to be on the slower side. The pitch for the 1st ODI between India and England last month produced a high-scoring thriller.
But for the India vs Australia Test beginning on Thursday, the pitch is likely to be dry and spinner-friendly. The two teams will have to contend with the shorter square boundaries at the MCA Stadium as well and, therefore, be careful in utilising their spinners.
India vs Australia 1st Test Playing XIs
Keeping all the essential aspects in mind, here’s India and Australia’s probable playing XIs for the Pune Test.
From India’s perspective, they have a settled side in place and Virat Kohli’s men enjoying a satisfactory outing in the one-off Test against Bangladesh, who tested the hosts in every department and really gave a proper Test match.
Some of us expected India to play six batsman, one all-rounder and three specialist bowlers. But Kohli, the aggressive captain he is, didn’t compromise on his philosophy and went in with four specialist bowlers (three seamers and one spinner) and the No. 1-ranked Test bowler and all-rounder.
Jayant Yadav was critical to India beating England 4-0 in the Test series. He had to miss the final Test against the Poms due to a hamstring injury, but his all-round performances were pivotal to India “settling scores” against England.
He is a clever off-spinner who is also a nice foil for the leading spinners, Ashwin and Jadeja. With him in the playing XI, India’s batting line-up also becomes reinforced. Jayant is likely to come into India’s playing XI for the first Test against Australia, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar potentially being the one to make way.
Otherwise, India shouldn’t really make changes to the XI they fielded in Hyderabad against the Bangla Tigers.
India’s probable playing XI for the first Test vs Australia in full: Virat Kohli*, Lokesh Rahul, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, Wriddhiman Saha, Jayant Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, and Umesh Yadav
The actual Indian playing XI for the Pune Test was as predicted by Cricfooty!
Australia have come into this Test series against India, having been given no chance of even challenging the No. 1-ranked Test side in their own den, let alone winning their first Test series in India since 2004.
The touring Aussies did enjoy a good practice match against India at the Brabourne Stadium. But come the first Test, Steve Smith and co. have to start afresh and they will also be playing on what should be a different pitch to the one they played their practice match on at the CCI.
The Brabourne pitch was flat and good to bat on, not to forget that the practice game was only for three days and the deterioration will not have been as huge as for a five-day Test.
Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood didn’t feature at all against India A, but are certainties to play in Pune. So, who do they come in place of?
If both the Australian frontline pacers and spinners have to be included in the playing XI, then Glenn Maxwell, who played the practice match, has to make way along with Jackson Bird.
Matthew Renshaw not only struggled but also failed in both the innings, scoring 11 and 10, in the practice match. Will Australia be worried? Not yet, and Renshaw, who scored a mammoth 184 in his and Australia’s last Test against Pakistan at the SCG, is likely to play the Pune Test.
Shaun Marsh played the practice match ahead of Usman Khawaja, who has a dubious record with the bat in the sub-continent, and scored an unbeaten hundred (104*) along with captain Steve Smith (107*). Again, the challenge will be a lot sterner against the Indian side, than what they were confronted with by Ashok Dinda and co. in the practice match.
Peter Handscomb played a couple of good knocks against India A, and he’s likely to keep his place in the side as well, for the first Test, joining the likes of David Warner, Mitchell Marsh, Smith and co. in trying to put up a strong batting display.
Australia’s probable playing XI vs India for the Pune Test in full: Steve Smith*, David Warner, Matt Renshaw, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Mitchell Marsh, Matthew Wade, Steve O’Keefe, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc, and Josh Hazlewood
The actual Australian playing XI for the Pune Test was as predicted by Cricfooty!
Do you agree with Cricfooty‘s selection? Tell is if you concur or don’t, using the comments section below.