In the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner, India has been talked up a lot. However, given that India has never ever won a Test series in Australia in more than 70 years of its touring history is reason enough to say that Australia would still start favourites in their home conditions.
The Aussie batting may be in tatters but they have four world class bowlers in Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and spinner Nathan Lyon. The bowling is full of variety.
While Starc is a left-arm tearaway pacer, Josh Hazlewood is a bit like Glen McGrath who can land the ball on a coin the entire day. Pat Cummins also has serious space and is an attacking option. Nathan Lyon does the binding job on days one and two and then as the pitch starts to crumble, he becomes the major wicket-taker and the pacers take a backseat.
However, their batting has never been weaker. Opening the batting with the likes of Aaron Finch and youngster Marcus Harris is always a risk. Apart from Usman Khawaja at number three and Shaun Marsh to some extent, they don't have any solid batsman in the middle order.
India would go with the opening pair of Murali Vijay and KL Rahul with Cheteshwar Pujara at three, followed by Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane. The biggest point of debate in the dressing room would be whether to go with six pure batsmen or to play five bowlers.
With the Adelaide pitch expected to sport some grass, the team management can decide to go with six proper batsmen with either of Rohit Sharma or Hanuma Vihari at No 6 and keeper-batsman Rishabh Pant at seven.
They will then have to pick three pacers which in all likelihood would be Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma and the lone spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.
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Let's have a look at the preobable playing XIs of both teams.
India- Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hanuma Vihari, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah
Australia- Aaron Finch, Marcus Harris, Usman Khwaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb/Travis Head, Tim Paine (c)(wk), Mitchell Marsh, Nathon Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins
Who will win? – Australia
Head to Head – Matches Played: 94, Australia: 41, India: 26, Draw: 26
Top Batsman (Runs Scored) – Virat Kohli (India), Usman Khwaja (Australia)
Top Bowler (Wickets taken) – Jasprit Bumrah (India), Mitchell Starc (Australia)
Most Fours – Virat Kohli (India), Usman Khwaja (Australia)
Team Scores Batting First – India 330+, Australia 250+
*NB these predictions may be changed nearer the start of the match once the final starting teams have been announced and we will be running ‘In–Play’ features soon, so stay tuned.
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