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After 3-0 whitewash of Pakistan, Australia face up to tough India challenge

Australia whitewashed Pakistan 3-0 for the fourth consecutive time Down Under but Steven Smith’s team face a massive task ahead as the team prepares to take on India for four Tests in February

cricket Updated: Jan 07, 2017 20:01 IST
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Steven Smith’s Australia face a massive task in the four-Test series against India in February as they look to turn around their woeful record in the sub-continent.
Steven Smith’s Australia face a massive task in the four-Test series against India in February as they look to turn around their woeful record in the sub-continent.(Getty Images)

Australia started 2017 in style defeating Pakistan by 220 runs in the third and final Test in Sydney. The result meant a fourth consecutive 3-0 scoreline against Pakistan Down Under. While these are happy times for Steven Smith and his team, they are aware of the challenges that lie ahead.

Australia’s next Test assignment is in India and they will play four Tests starting from February 23. Speaking after the series win, Smith said that the team is under no illusion that the India series will be their toughest.

“It’s going to be a very difficult series going over there. We’re going to have to play some very good cricket if we want to compete over there. It’s a completely different place to play, playing on those wickets is nothing like playing here in Australia,” Smith stated.

Australia’s horrors in India and Asia

Smith’s words are a realistic take on an Australian side that is not on top of their game. Their weaknesses are further highlighted by their recent disasters in Asia. In the last three years, Australia played nine Tests in Asia and suffered a 0-4 whitewash to India in 2013, a 0-2 whitewash to Pakistan in the UAE and a 0-3 whitewash against Sri Lanka.

Australia’s record in India is poor. Australia have lost eight out of the last 10 Tests. They have lost their last seven consecutive Tests in the country, stretching back to Nagpur in 2008. Although they won a series in 2004, Australia’s record in Tests in India since 1996 reads: Played-21, Won-4, Lost-14, Drawn-3.

The win-loss ratio of 0.285 is the worst away record for Australia in any country in the last 20 years. Their 14 losses in India is also the most they have lost away to any country, second being 13 against England. With such a record Smith’s Australia face an uphill task.

Virat Kohli’s Indian team did not lose a single Test in 2016 and they have not tasted defeat in 18 consecutive Tests. (Pratham Gokhale/HT PHOTO)

Virat Kohli’s India in magnificent form

Australia’s plight will be further compounded by the form of the Indian Team under Virat Kohli. In 2016, Kohli’s India did not lose a single Test. At home, they are yet to taste defeat either in a Test or in a series. They last lost a series at home in 2012 to England, but since then, they have been on a roll.

In Indian conditions, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja are lethal. Ashwin had a brilliant 2016 in which he became the leading wicket-taker with 72 wickets. In his last three series in India, he has taken 31, 27 and 28 wickets, respectively. Jadeja also had a brilliant time, taking 26 wickets in the series against England, including a haul of 7/48 on the last day of the fifth Test against England in Chennai.

Ashwin and Jadeja were instrumental in 2013’s 4-0 whitewash of Australia. In that series, Ashwin picked up 29 wickets while Jadeja bagged 24. With both the spinners in fine form not only with the ball but also with the bat, Australia are all set for a tough four weeks in India.