When India take on Australia, there's often more than just the cricket.
Australia's string of match-winning players always had the ability to rattle rivals with bat, ball and mouth.
For a while, some of India's more gifted cricketers stood up and tried to match them at these 'mental disintegration' tactics. In the early half of the first decade of this millennium India was probably the only team that troubled OZs not only in India but also in their own backyard.
Now, the Australian team is on an upward trajectory while the Indian team seems to be in free fall.
Both are in the middle of rebuilding. The difference is the more organised infrastructure surrounding the Australian team that has allowed them to go about the process in a more effective manner. The results have been plain to see in the recent past -eight wins, three draws and one loss for Australia in 2012, while India has lost 10 of its last 17 Tests.But in a post-Sydneygate world,with both teams in transition, will the sparks fly like old times?
Times have changed. India who were becoming an Invicible Team in their backyard were thrashed by England in a 4 test match series on turning wickets.An Aussie touring party coming to India doesn't always have four spinners in their lineup. But following the 'Monty-Swann Effect - in which England's spin duo decimated India in their own den - the approach of touring teams has changed, and the Australian team getting ready for the four-Test series has Nathan Lyon, Steve Smith, Xavier Doherty and Glenn Maxwell doing spin duties. The Aussies also have another rookie left-arm spinner in Ashton Agar, who will be with the squad, though not on official capacity. Lyon, Australia's No. 1 spinner, has already mentioned that he is looking forward to seeing two spinners in action,and the intent was pretty clear in the first practice session on Saturday. Aussies do know what they have at hand in a country where the wizard Shane Warne also struggled. But the TEAM has faith in Lyon. Nathan is a young boy taking about three-and-a-half wickets per match.
But I would like to see young Steven Smith getting a game. He can play as a batsman and a part time spinner.While he certainly is more then just a part time spinner and being a leg spinner he is an attacking option.
Talking about the Australian batting line-up, it looks messed up as ever touring to India, after Hayden-Langer era has passed. Prior to the three-day game, it was perceived that Phil Hughes was likely to slot in at No. 3 in the Test XI, while Usman Khawaja was not a certainty. But it was Hughes who failed both times, scoring 1 and 19. Khawaja and Hughes were the big disappointments among the top-order batsmen in the Australians’first innings in their three-day warm-up game against India A. In their second innings, while Hughes failed again, Khawaja showcased some solid defence against the India A spinners whose unbeaten 30 in the second innings spanned 110 minutes.
But with David Warner yet to be declared fit, there is still some uncertainty about Australia’s starting XI for the Chennai Test, starting on Friday .It will be interesting to see what Michael Clarke and Mickey Arthur decide for the first Test. Shane Watson will be the biggest threat to the Indian team. He would certainly attack the spinners in a way that he won't just allow them to be able settle in to a certain line and length.
He scored two quick fiery half-centuries in the 3 day warm up game to show that he is up for the challenge . Michael Clarke was in a great form against the South Africans. Dale steyn had to bowl the most unplayble deliveries to get him out in that series.
Ozs have a lot of options when it comes to the pace bowling.Moises Henriques bowled brilliantly in the Warm up game and in the last game. But he is unlikely to get a game.Peter Siddle was lovely; he hit the deck hard and got it around the new faces of India. Australia would like to go with Siddle and Johnson if they are looking to play two spinners.We might see Pattinson or Stark if thats not the case.
Here is my eleven for the first test- Michael Clarke (c), Ed Cowan, David Warner/Phil Hughes , Shane Watson, Matthew Wade, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Usman Khawaja, Steven Smith.