Former Australia cricketer Greg Chappell believes the Pat Cummins-led side will have to put their best foot forward in terms of talent and experience during the upcoming four-match series against India as succeeding in the country will take a lot of pluck, planning, patience and persistence.
Australia and India, currently ranked number one and two respectively in both ICC Men’s Test Team Rankings and the ongoing ICC World Test Championship 2023 cycle, will meet in a highly-anticipated four-match series for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy to be held in Nagpur (February 9-13), New Delhi (February 17-21), Dharamshala (March 1-5) and Ahmedabad (March 9-13).
India are the current holder of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, having won the last three series against Australia in 2017, 2018-19 and 2020-21. Australia, on the other hand, are aiming to win a Test series in India after having done so last time in 2004.
“A tour of the sub-continent challenges an individual in unique ways. The culture, the climate, the food and the cacophony and activity can work against a touring team like no other country. Winning in India takes pluck, planning, patience and persistence.”
“The Australians will have to summon every ounce of their talent and experience during the next month to succeed. India is no longer the mystery it once was. Tours are more regular and the IPL offers valuable exposure,” wrote Chappell in his column for ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’ on Saturday.
Chappell further pointed out that Australia’s batters will be hugely tested in the Indian conditions. “Though India is a huge challenge, Australia have their own issues to sort out; David Warner is in patchy form and needs to improve his Test record in India; Usman Khawaja, Alex Carey, Travis Head and Cameron Green will be tested against better quality spin than they encountered in Pakistan and Sri Lanka.”
“Marcus Labuschagne will be facing his first big test in the subcontinent; and Steve Smith’s recent batting tweaks will be examined more keenly than against the West Indies, South Africa and in the BBL.”
“Australia must bat exceedingly well in their first innings if they want to stay in the contest. The game can get away from you very swiftly, otherwise. Tours to India can make or break batting careers.”
“Three good partnerships in each innings are required to build winning scores and in case you think this is easy, let me tell you the Indians will subject the Australians to a relentless, probing examination of all aspects of batting.”
Despite the batting challenges for Australia, Chappell, who served as India’s head coach from 2005-07, still thinks the visitors have a great chance of winning the series if they make use of the old, new ball and get Ashton Agar as a second spin option.
“Australia can win this series. India are more vulnerable at home than they have been for some time due to injuries to key players like Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja (available for the first two Tests) and Jasprit Bumrah. They will rely heavily on Virat Kohli.”
“Australia must take wickets at regular intervals. Partnerships are the key, so they must prevent India from building them. To win, Australia must get wickets with the new ball. As the ball gets softer, they must bowl frugally and then reverse-swing the old ball. Spin is more of a weapon in India than in Australia.”
“With Green in doubt for the first Test, it will be hard to get the team balance right. The choice of who is the second spinner will be critical. On good batting wickets, Mitch Swepson should be the choice. Should the pitches favour spin, which is more likely, I expect Ashton Agar to get the nod because finger spin is considered to be more accurate.”