At least one burning question, which has lit up endless media discussions in India, has been answered. Sourav Ganguly announced his decision to retire from cricket after this series, putting an end to months, or perhaps years of conjecture.
He has been in and out of the Indian side over the past couple of years with selectors unable to decide whether he fitted into their scheme of things. In Australia, a former captain would have found it impossible to make a comeback, but Sourav did just that last year. To his credit, he did very well over the last year, even though the media was all over him the minute he failed in one or two innings. Finally, it will be a relief for Sourav to play without the Damocles sword of the selectors hanging over his head.
There is no clarity as to why Sourav was dropped from the Irani Cup side and how he was selected thereafter. However, this has been in keeping with the way the selectors have gone back and forth on the Ganguly issue. Hopefully they will not have to pay for their indecision, because even though the elegant left-hander has made his announcement, nobody has been groomed and readied to take his place.
Sourav Ganguly will be remembered for his contribution to making his team a unit that gave as good as it got. We did have a couple of differences while we were opposing captains in 2001, but my interactions thereafter have always been cordial.
It will be interesting to see how India focus on the series in the light of Sourav's announcement. I do not think it will distract them or make them lose focus. The team has experienced campaigners who are capable of taking such things in their stride.
There is a feeling that this Australian side is a little too inexperienced to take on the battle-hardened Indian unit that faces them. However, it can be argued that the Indians boast of many players whose best years are behind them. Will these guys have the reflexes, eye, technique and motivation that made them so successful in the past? The Australian bowlers have not bowled a single Test over between them, but they are quite exposed to Indian conditions through one-day cricket as well as the IPL.
I suppose the weak link for the Australians would be their spin bowling, and if the visitors are made to play on spin-friendly tracks, the inexperienced spinners might find it difficult to exploit the conditions. However, the likes of Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson and Stuart Clark are capable, wicket-taking bowlers in most conditions.
It's going to be a closely fought series, and if I am to be silly enough to predict a result, all I will say is that the side that wins the first Test will win the series 2-1. Australia have always won in Bangalore, so if they keep that record intact, they will be able to retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy as well.