Australia begin their tour of India later in February looking for a rare win in the sub-continent. Sridhar Bhamadi previews the series and makes his prediction.
When it comes to cricketing rivalries, Ashes takes the pudding. The historic rivalry adds to the fizz every time these two nations prepare to slug it out. But in recent times, one series that has come closer to Ashes is the series between India and Australia.
For India, Australia is always the benchmark to test themselves against the best while for the Kangaroos winning in India is the ultimate holy grail.
Starting from 1996-97, the series was named as Border-Gavaskar Trophy immortalizing two legendary players from these sides. The naming may have spurred the sides because the competitiveness has only increased since then.
It’s always tight between these sides
Under the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, the sides have met 40 times with each side winning 16 Tests and playing out eight draws across 12 series. India has won six of those series while Australia were victorious in five leaving one series played in 2003-04 drawn.
If you haven’t got an inkling of the intensity of this series from these numbers, peep a little into history to understand the intensity from the participating players. Winning the series in India has been dubbed the ‘final frontier’ for Steve Waugh in 2000-01 – something which he couldn’t accomplish.
The two sides are now gearing up for a Four-Test match series to be played between February-March in India. The task that lies ahead of them in India is undoubtedly humongous. The last time they won a series or a Test in India was way back in 2004-05. Since then it has been tough riding for the Aussies that included two whitewashes.
Can the Aussies turn it around?
This Aussie team is stacked with match winners but their pedigree on spinning tracks isn’t great. Quite recently they were blanked by Sri Lanka on dust bowls while Pakistan stifled them on a slow pitch in one of the ODIs in Australia. The scars of spins are still fresh for the players and supporters.
The likes of David Warner, Steve Smith and Usman Khawaja make a good line-up on paper but how they can counter the spin threat of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will be a matter of concern.
India have recently banished a much-stronger England side and will no doubt be starting the series as favourite. No wonder, for a team that has lost only one of their last 20 series at home! But, considering the familiarity of tracks the players have – thanks to IPL – and the intensive preparation being put in, Australia would like to believe they have a shot at redemption.
As Ricky Ponting recently put, if the Aussies can stay competitive through the series, the result will take care of itself. Tackling the threat of Ashwin & co buoyed by audience baying for their favourite opponent – after Pakistan – will be the biggest challenge that lies in wait for Smith’s men in the Indian summer.
The betting market agrees with us as indicated by the odds of $13 (William Hill
) on the visitors winning the series.
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