The build-up to the series hasn’t been as feverish as an India-Australia encounter normally causes. But that has a lot to do with the Commonwealth Games and the Pakistan cricketing saga which has hogged the limelight.
Given the background of these two prized fighters of international cricket, I would be surprised if the coming days remain low key.
Australia usually don’t let go an inch without a scrap. They also don’t forget easily. They are unlikely to come to terms with India’s number one Test ranking or, for that matter, the painful defeat of 2008. I think they would be ready.
As ever, Australia would look to be better against spin. They would remember how Amit Mishra ran circles around them in Mohali two years ago. They are unlikely to buy the theory that Harbhajan Singh would be missing from action. I too doubt that Harbhajan won’t be there. The off-spinner is usually ready for the Aussies even on one leg.
Two other issues would be critical for the Aussies. They would love to win the toss and hope Ricky Ponting is in roaring form. Ponting’s form is critical to their plans as the Aussies get into a rebuilding mode.
Australia have been vocal about the liberal use of the short ball in the series. The suggestion emerging from their camp that even Virender Sehwag could be subjected to a serious search against the rising delivery is interesting. I doubt if this would affect Sehwag whose middle name is “unfazed”!
Life seems good for Mahendra Singh Dhoni. But the skipper must be acutely aware of his threadbare bowling options.
Zaheer Khan returns and so does Sreesanth and hopefully their spunk would add teeth to the India attack. I feel India would go with two spinners and Harbhajan and Mishra must be the chosen duo.
No such worries for the batting. The heavyweight seniors are still worth their weight in gold. Australia have a young and spirited attack but tackling the India batsmen would be a different challenge altogether. This line-up has the dash of Gautam Gambhir, Sehwag and Suresh Raina as well as the solidity of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. Not to forget Dhoni, of course.
It’s the start of the season and interest would centre on the Mohali pitch. Most agree it would get slower as the game progresses.
It’s great that the season starts with the real stuff.