A successful cricket team is one which can prove themselves not only at their home but also at other’s backyard. India are regarded as one of the finest and strongest cricket team with proven match winners. However, conquering the opponents in their home has always been a distant dream for India, especially in Test matches.
Tours to SENA countries are considered to be the toughest overseas tours of all and winning there is something India has been desperate for a long time.
India toured South Africa and England earlier this year and showed true character to win the series. Unfortunately, India’s plan didn’t fall in places that India returned empty hands yet again. But the fans and experts were happy with the intent shown by the team which assured that overseas victory is not so far.
On the other hand, Australia who were one of the dominant sides, are dented in the recent past due to various reasons. India’s tour of Australia started last week but the real test starts on December 6th when the first Test between the teams will start at Adelaide.
Although Australians may not be at their best, they can never be underestimated adding to the fact that they play at home.
Let us now take a look at the five players to watch out for in the series:
1. Prithvi Shaw
Prithvi Shaw announced himself in the international stage way back in 2013 itself when he played a gem of an innings by making 546 runs in Harris Shield Elite division. In the process, he set the record for the maximum score by any batsmen in an organized form of cricket.
While a vast majority of players who shine in domestic cricket haven’t been able to replicate the same in the international circuit, Shaw's transition to international cricket has been seamless.
Shaw, who is touted as next Sachin Tendulkar, made a blistering start to his International career by hitting a century and half-century in the two innings he played against the Windies. Though numerous reasons like weak opponent, subcontinent pitch and etc. can be regarded for his successful start, he seems to have the capability to shine in overseas tours too.
The series against Australia could be the perfect platform for the young lad to demonstrate his skills and will be keenly watched if he can continue his fine form.
Usman Khawaja is another opener in the list who is indeed an exciting player of the game. When David Warner was banned for a year for Sandpapergate scandal, Australia had to worry about whom to replace warner at the top.
Khawaja was promoted to the top, and fortunately, he made the most out of the opportunity. He played an extraordinary innings when he rescued the team from a certain defeat earlier this year.
Australia had to chase 462 runs in their first Test against Pakistan. They were struggling at 87 for 3 at one stage and it was when Khawaja joined hands with Travis Head and saved the team.
It was one of the finest innings in the recent past where he made 141 runs off 302 deliveries. Khawaja was yet again the top scorer with 85 in the first innings of the same match when they were bowled out for 202.
In the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner, Khawaja will be key for the Australian batting to shine.
3. Rishabh Pant
The Test cricket has seen only a few players who never cared about the format and played aggressively. An example for the same is Virender Sehwag who used to attack from ball one.
Rishabh Pant is one such player who may not be a perfect disciple for Sehwag but is a dominating player by nature who can hit boundaries at will and up the ante any moment. He debuted earlier this year in tough England conditions.
After a lean start to his career, he made a mark in the final Test when he hit 114 off 146 balls. He was involved in a 204 run partnership with KL Rahul. Although India lost the match as well as the series, India returned with quite a few positives and Pant was one among them.
Rishabh Pant is still not a complete player but he surely has the capability to become one of the greatest the country has ever produced. It remains to be seen if he can conquer both wicket-keeping and batting for which this series will be a real test.
4. Josh Hazlewood
Australia has a rich and long tradition for producing top class fast bowlers. Merve Hughes, Dennis Lillee, Glenn McGrath and Mitchell Johnson are some names in the list that continued the tradition.
Josh Hazlewood is one such player who would follow the same. Having featured in 40 Tests for Australia, Hazlewood has already shown signs of being a descendant to McGrath. He has picked 151 wickets at an average of 26.85 in the 40 Tests.
Returning to the Test team after the infamous South African series, Hazlewood will be the bowler to watch out for in the Australian squad and will be seen if he can create tremors in the Indian batting line-up.
Hazlewood has played only 5 Tests in 2018 but has collected 15 wickets at an average of 38.13. Though it’s a little slump when compared to his previous year statistics where he has never averaged more than 29, he is sure to be a trump card in the bowling line-up of Australia as he will look to better his record to end 2018 on a high note.
When Jasprit Bumrah rose to fame in IPL, fans and experts were startled by his bowling action which was different from the usual. Many criticised him by commenting he cannot sustain citing the bowling action he has as a reason.
Bumrah made all the comments false with some excellent bowling performances in the international stage. Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar hold the key for Indian bowling in limited overs format. Both of them are now the part of the Test team and slowly becoming the same in Tests as well.
Earlier this year when India toured South Africa, India won only one match in the 3 match series during which Jasprit Bumrah played important role in that victory as he picked 5 and 2 wickets in two innings respectively.
Having featured in 6 Tests in 2018, Bumrah has picked 28 wickets at an impressive average of 25.57. Along with Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Bumrah forms a pace attack which is much stronger than those in the past tours and it remains to be seen if this team can conquer the Australian side.