After finishing as runners-up in the World Test Championship (WTC) the previous year, India is hoping to make it back to the final this year. But in this situation, they need some results, starting with the Border-Gavaskar Trophy at the beginning of next year.
For a four-match Test series, Rohit Sharma’s team will welcome Australia to their shores. They will need to win at least three of their four matches at home in order to have a chance of qualifying for the WTC Finals this time around.
However, India’s performance in the longest format in recent times has been subpar. The hosts will need to play their best game against a team that is number one on the WTC list.
In recent years, the two teams’ rivalry has been thrilling, and for the big game, both teams will be expected to play their best.
However, the hosts might not be at their best for the February series. We examine three of the reasons in this article:
#1 The Indian batters’ form
The Indian top order’s form hasn’t been great recently. They have also been hurt by injuries and constant reorganization, but the top and middle orders have performed poorly this year.
This year, India’s vice-captain and captain have only played two and four games, respectively, scoring 90 and 137 runs. This year, KL Rahul has an average of 17.12, while Rohit has an average of 30.
Virat Kohli has also failed to live up to his lofty expectations. He has scored 265 runs at an average of 26.50 in six matches. In six matches, Shubman Gill scored 178 runs at an average of 29.66, despite having few chances to show what he’s all about.
Only Shreyas Iyer and Cheteshwar Pujara, two of the top batters, have scored more than 400 runs this season. Along with their lower middle order, the two have been crucial for India and average over 45. It’s safe to say that in February, the top brass will need to show up.
#2 Letting matches slip away
India developed a reputation for playing an aggressive style of cricket under the leadership of Kohli and Shastri. India’s Test credentials were revolutionized by the head-on strategy, which allowed them to dominate both at home and away.
In any case, things haven’t been remarkably the same lately. An excellent illustration of that was the series against South Africa earlier this year. As a general rule, India has ended up in genuinely fair situations to put on the press and attempt to dominate the match.
However, on multiple occasions, they allowed a South African team with relatively little experience to prevail. The same Proteas team is currently struggling in Australia during the Test series against Australia.
The visitors were blown away by the Bazball template in the Pataudi Trophy Test against England that was postponed. India had to rely on tip-toeing over the finish line a few times, even recently against Bangladesh, when they had their backs to the wall.
However, the Men in Blue might not be as lucky to be able to get away with these things when up against a team like Australia. The Australian team will make sure to seize any opportunities and may demand payment from India.
#3 Concerns about key players’ availability
Jasprit Bumrah’s injury has been a significant setback for the Men in Blue across all formats. This year, the outstanding fast bowler has taken 22 wickets in five matches, averaging 20.31 over the longest format.
The hosts may be counting on the likes of Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin because spinners are expected to dominate in subcontinent conditions. As a result, they might be better prepared to deal with Bumrah’s absence.
Rishabh Pant might not be any different. Due to the unfortunate incident involving the 25-year-old, cricket is clearly the second priority, followed by his well-being.
However, his contribution to the team and significance cannot be overstated. This year, Pant has scored the most runs in Test matches, scoring 680 runs in seven matches at an average of 61.81.
He also has four half-centuries and a few centuries during this time, despite being fired multiple times in the 1990s. He will unquestionably be a huge loss for the team and will leave a huge void.
Another player who has been hurt since the Asia Cup 2022 is Ravindra Jadeja. His return is uncertain, and his absence could also play a significant role in determining not only India’s team composition but also the outcome of the series.