India have historic chance to end a 64-yr wait in Aus
With the Aus team struggling like never before, India will have their best chance to end a 64-year wait to upstage them in their own backyard when the two sides clash in what promises to be a pulsating four-Test series starting from Monday.india Updated: Dec 25, 2011 15:25 IST
With the Australian cricket team struggling like never before, India will have their best chance to end a 64-year wait to upstage them in their own backyard when the two sides clash in what promises to be a pulsating four-Test series starting in Melboune on Monday.
With a young and inexperienced side to lead, Michael Clarke has already conceded that it would be quite a task for his greenhorn bowlers to contain India's veteran line-up of batsmen.
But never the best of travellers despite their improving record, the Indians would be challenged by the sheer hostility of conditions that Australia is known for.
The larger grounds and the bouncing tracks would test the Indian side even though the visitors holds the edge against the most inexperienced of Australian sides.
It is India's best chance considering how Australia have struggled in the past few months and if Sachin Tendulkar manages to score that elusive 100th international hundred, it would be cause of bigger celebrations.
In fact, such has been the wait for the ton that an early lead for the two teams could become a sideshow if Tendulkar reaches his milestone in the opening Test.
Tendulkar, the game's biggest legend with 15,183 runs from 184 Tests, chases that century after an excruciating wait of seven Tests and 13 innings which even his team-mates are urging him to end now.
On the other side, Ricky Ponting, with 12,656 runs from 158 Tests, is the game's third biggest scorer ever and is arguably the best Australian batsman ever after Sir Donald Bradman.
Yet, the former Australian captain finds his head on the chopping block after failing to score a century in the last two years, a wait of 16 Tests and 30 innings when he advanced his total by only 856 runs and a mere eight half centuries.
Indeed this Test is a story of plots within plots with India chasing that elusive series win on Australian soil which hasn't happened on nine previous visits, 36 Tests and 64 years.
India's trinity of batting legends, Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid (13,094 from 160 Tests) and VVS Laxman (8,626 from 130 Tests) almost surely have their absolute last chance of scripting history in Australia as another visit by India on these shores is not scheduled before 2014.
On paper, it should be an easy task given Australia have a callow attack of James Pattinson (2 Tests), Peter Siddle (27 Tests), Ben Hilfenhaus (17 Tests) and Nathan Lyon (7 Tests).
Yet, the promise they have shown, as individuals and as a bowling group, turns them as Australia's most potent weapon in the forthcoming series.
Pattinson, Siddle and Hilfenhaus all bowl in the 140-km zone and bring diverse variety on the table. While Pattinson is extreme speed with lethal away movement, Siddle is bouncy with a back-of-length approach and Hilfenhaus is a renowned exponent of late swing. In Lyon, Australia probably have their best off-spinner in the last 30 years.
It is a bowling attack which is expected to make up for the frailty in batting which has suffered collapses of 136, 47, 192, 88 and 127 in different innings of the last 21 Tests of two years.
Australia's troubles have been laid on the doors of two of its most experienced batsmen, Ponting and Mike Hussey, though its worries with its openers is no less pronounced with Philip Hughes failing to make the most of his opportunity and Shane Watson becoming injured with an annoying regularity.
Wicketkeeper Brad Haddin is talented but his 2171 runs from 39 Tests at 36.18 average with just three hundreds don't stack up to the class of Adam Gilchrist who never failed to shore up the lower half of the batting during his astonishing 96 Tests in which he cracked 17 centuries in his decade-long career lasting till 2008.