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Australia vs India 1st Test Preview: Paine has more questions to answer than Kohli as pink ball test beckons

India v Australia
India v Australia
©Reuters
 

While India are expected to hand Shubman Gill his maiden test cap, Australia will promote Matthew Wade to the top of the order if Cameron Green gets fit in time.

LIVE - Australia vs India 1st Test

Australia's long list of unanswered questions

After the IPL came to a close, Delhi Capitals head coach and commentator Ricky Ponting said that India will not be clear in their own mind and have got more questions to answer than Australia for the marquee test series.

As it has turned out, the scales have tilted to the other side in the lead up to the test series. When Ponting made the remark, he was referring to Virat Kohli missing the last three test matches of the series due to paternity leave and the cloud over the fitness of Rohit Sharma and Ishant Sharma.

While India will still be without Kohli for 75% of the series and Ishant Sharma has been ruled out of the test series, there is a possibility for Rohit Sharma to play the second half of the test series.

However, Australia's troubles have worsened after David Warner injured his groin in the white-ball matches against India and has been ruled out of the first test match. Will Pucovski was touted to take his place but he suffered a blow to his head and showed concussion symptoms, which is why he has been ruled out of the first test match as well.

As was the case with Cameron Green who took a hit to his head off the bat of Jasprit Bumrah in the practice match and is not a certainty for the first test match. The form of Joe Burns has fallen off a cliff and the opener is struggling to even get off the mark.

Hence, it would be fair to say that Australia now have more questions to answer than India.

Australia's dominant pink ball record

Till now, a total of 14 test matches have been played under lights with exactly half of them featuring Australia. On the contrary, India have just been part of one pink ball test match in which they defeated Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata by an innings and 46 runs.

Australia have won all seven of their pink ball matches. They hold the record of scoring the highest total in day-night test matches - 589 for 3. They piled it up in the first innings against Pakistan in last year's Adelaide test.

Only two batsmen have scored more than 500 runs in red ball test matches, both of whom belong to Australia - Steve Smith and David Warner.

The highest wicket-taker with the red ball is Mitchell Starc with 42 wickets. Starc also has three five-wicket hauls in day-night test matches and would be a menace for India.

In all, Australia have much better pink ball credentials as compared to India and the experienced unit would hope to make the most of it.

India have their XI sorted 

Shubman Gill is likely to open the batting alongside Mayank Agrawal for India as he looked a lot more assured of his defence and at home against the short ball in the two practice matches as compared to his competitor Prithvi Shaw.

The team is likely to go with Rishabh Pant over Wriddhiman Saha for his batting ability. Alongside Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav is likely to be the third pace bowler with Mohammed Siraj and Navdeep Saini looking a bit wet behind their ears in the practice games.

With Ravindra Jadeja not a 100 percent fit, Ravichandran Ashwin is Kohli's obvious choice in the spin department.

Aussies fret over concussion

Two players were a certainty to make the Australian XI had they been fit - Will Pucovski and Cameron Green, both of whom suffered concussion in the practice match against India. 

Pucovski has been ruled out of the test match but Green has been showing good signs of recovery, as confirmed by Australia head coach Justin Langer. The all-rounder is expected to bat at number 6, with Matthew Wade promoted to open the batting alongside Marcus Harris as a one-off experiment till Warner and Pucovski return for the 2nd test match.

Here's the probable playing XI of both teams:

Australia -
Marcus Harris, Matthew Wade/Joe Burns, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Tim Paine (c & wk), Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood

India - Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), R Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami

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