Australia v India @ Adelaide Oval
The much anticipated first test of the Australian summer begins on Thursday afternoon when Australia face India at the Adelaide Oval. It is a day/night test which always creates extra intrigue as generally the pink ball offers more assistance for the bowlers.
It would perhaps be a little far fetched to try and argue that this is as big a series as when Australia play England for the Ashes but it is a clear second.
The build up to this series has been one of the most interesting in recent memory with so much talk about the make up of the Australian XI. Most notably the openers. When prodigy Will Pucovski started the Australian Summer with back to back double centuries for Victoria it looked all most inevitable that he would finally make his long awaited test debut and replace Joe Burns as David Warner’s opening partner.
Fast forward three or four weeks and it seems likely that all three – Warner, Burns and Pucovski – will not be in the side Tim Paine names at the toss on Thursday afternoon.
Warner was injured in the limited overs series against India and will miss at the very least the first test. Pucovski was sadly struck on the head yet again in the touring game against the Indian’s and is out indefinitely. And then there’s Burns, who has a first class average of 6.8 this summer. He can’t buy a run and surely cannot be picked on that output.
It was announced on Tuesday that youngster Cameron Green will make his much anticipated debut. The tall West Australian has two centuries to his name this summer. One for Western Australian and importantly one for Australia A against the Indian’s. When you factor in that he also bowls upwards of 140 kph he simply had to be picked.
We will wait to see what happens with the openers but my guess would be that Matthew Wade is promoted to opener and Victorian Marcus Harris is recalled as a reward for some good recent form. He did an okay job under tough circumstances the last time India toured Australia in 2018/19.
India won the series 2-1 but Australia were with out key players Smith and Warner. The two were out suspended for the ball tampering incident in South Africa. This left a huge hole in the batting and Australia struggled to make enough runs against the Indian attack spearhead by Jaspreet Bumrah. With Warner injured the Aussies will be looking to Smith to make a huge impact in the first test here.
The other major improvement to the Australian batting is Marnus Labuschagne. He has not stopped making runs batting at number three since his breakout series in England 18 months.
It was Pujara who did the damage with the bat for India in 2018/19. He made a 521 runs, 171 more than the next best, Rishabh Pant. Their superstar Virat Kohli was third on the runs list and unfortunately for India and cricket fans in general this will be the only test we see him in. He heads home on completion for the impending birth of his first child.
With this being the case, India will see this as one of the factors as to why this is their best opportunity to win a Test and take the series lead. Kohli will be doing everything in his power to make a big score. The other factor is the instability of the Australian batting order with a new opening partnership. India will be looking for early wickets to expose Smith and Labuschagne to a moving Pink Ball.