It’s a series that’s almost as important to the Australians as the Ashes, and that is saying something in a world where the appetite for test cricket appears to be on the decline. The first test of the Border Gavaskar series, in a country that Steve Waugh famously described as the “final frontier”, will begin in Nagpur tomorrow. Both teams- Australia in particular, have one foot in the WTC final, so this could well serve as a dress rehearsal for the final battle a few months down the line.
India currently hold the BGT after a famous win Down Under back in 2020/21, beating the Australians 2-1 in their own fortress after being bowled out for only 36 in the first test in Adelaide. Unfortunately, the prime architect of that test triumph- swashbuckling wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant, is out of this series after suffering a car crash a few weeks ago, and his absence has created some selection headaches for the hosts.
Pant is not only an aggressive WK batsman but also an excellent player of spin. Unfortunately, Shreyas Iyer, another good attacking player of spin, is out due to injury as well, which leaves India with some worries in the middle order. Do they push KL Rahul down the order and open with Shubman Gill? Or does Suryakumar Yadav, a good player of spin but untested at this level, walk into the side?
Despite injuries to a couple of key players, the odds at 10Cric suggest that India will start favourites for this series. The portal also has a well designed IPL betting app– that tournament, the biggest in franchise cricket currently, comes on the heels of this very crucial series. Australia will also be without the key pace bowling duo of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, and lanky all-rounder Cameron Green (who went for 17.5 crore in the recent IPL auction), such an integral part of their success in recent times because of the balance he lends to the side, is out too.
Matt Renshaw deputised for Green against South Africa, but the visitors’ fear of having too many left-handers in their XI here could see both the Queensland star and Ashton Agar miss out. In that case, Pete Handscomb, a right-hander, but more crucially, also a good player of spin, could find himself parachuted into the XI, with Todd Murphy set to partner Nathan Lyon.
India have a fine record at home in test cricket- they’ve virtually been unbeatable in the last decade. They will have to possibly choose between Ishan Kishan and KS Bharat for the vacant WK spot, & another headache will be whether to include Kuldeep Yadav or Axar Patel in their lineup. Patel offers them greater batting depth and as a tall left handed spinner, will probably get the nod over Yadav, who was excellent in the recently concluded Bangladesh series.