Australia vs India: 1st Test, Preview: Focus on Virat Kohli as the battle begins Down Under

Will the visitors perform to their potential and grab early honours in the series?

Virat Kohli and Tim Paine pose with the Border–Gavaskar Trophy
Virat Kohli and Tim Paine pose with the Border–Gavaskar Trophy. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

A lot has changed from when India last toured Australia. The hosts are no more a force they used to be at home thanks to the ball-tampering scandal and the Indian captain Virat Kohli was just blossoming as a player. Now he is the most sought cricketer Down Under as well with even the media giving him all the limelight which is a rare case when a team travels to Australia.

There has been a lot of talk about the sledging which was Australia’s USP previously to unsettle the opposition. However, with them in a mess at the moment and playing their first home Test after Cape Town debacle in March. There is a change in leadership for them and are yet to win a series in any format since then. Tim Paine has been at the helm for them who is trying his best along with his team to regain the trust of the Australian public.

They will definitely manage to do it if they go on to beat the number 1 Test side in the world in the four-match contest. For that to happen, the hosts should play out of their skins, especially their batting, which has weakened considerably since Steve Smith and David Warner’s departure.

India are being tipped as the overwhelming favourites to win the series this time and it will be a history if they live up to the potential. Having said that, they have bottled up dominating positions before this year in South Africa and England more often and the coach and captain have been stressing on learning from those defeats. Regardless of all the talk, the action in the middle matters the most and it remains to be seen if they can pounce on this opportunity.

Team Combinations

Australia

Tim Paine announced his playing XI ahead of the series opener as the hosts decided to leave out one of the vice-captains Mitchell Marsh from the team. Marcus Harris is set for his Test debut and will open alongside Aaron Finch who is only into his third Test. Usman Khawaja will bat at number three after a long deliberation while the Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb and Travis Head to follow. Paine will bat at number seven with only four bowlers in the line-up.

Nathan Lyon will have to bowl the majority of overs in order to rest the fast bowlers while Head can also roll his arm over. Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins form one of the best pace attacks for the home side.

Playing XI: Aaron Finch, Marcus Harris, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Tim Paine (c & wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.

India

Unlike Australia, India haven’t announced their playing XI but they have given an insight into it by naming the 12-man squad. It will be a toss-up between Rohit Sharma and Hanuma Vihari for the number six position. Though the latter might make it to the XI as he can bowl his part-timers as well. The visitors’ top six batsmen will have to take up the responsibility of scoring the majority of runs.

The bowling attack is one of the best ever for India as well but they were guilty of letting the lower-order of the opposition off the hook. Ravi Ashwin should continue making an impact and hope that he is able to replicate his form in 2014.

Probable XI: KL Rahul, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravi Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami.

Focus will be on

Nathan Lyon (Australia)

Nathan Lyon has had a great time against India historically. The offie has improved significantly and manages to surprise the batsmen by extracting more bounce out of the surface. He was the hero for Australia last time the two teams in Adelaide as India had gone after the target sensationally on the final day. But Lyon’s exceptional spell of bowling had taken everyone by surprise as he would be looking to do the same yet again.

Murali Vijay (India)

While all the focus is on captain Virat Kohli, India’s other batsmen might just feel a little bit comfortable. Not much is expected of them after a poor England series and this could just work for their experienced opener Murali Vijay. He is making a comeback after losing his place after only two Tests in England and would have a point to prove that he is their best player at the top of the order.

Last time Vijay toured Australia, he had amassed 482 runs in eight outings at an exceptional average of 60.25. He has began the tour on a high with a century in the practice game and the Tamil Nadu cricketer will be looking to hit the straps from the word go.

Head to Head

Overall – 94 | Australia won – 41 | India won – 24 | Tie – 1 | Draw – 26

In Australia – Matches – 44 | Australia won – 28 | India won – 5 | Draw – 11

Stat Attack

394 – Virat Kohli has amassed 394 runs at an impeccable average of 98.5 at the Adelaide Oval across two matches with three centuries.

1 – Australia have only one player in the playing XI who was part of the 2014-15 Adelaide Test.

Broadcast Details

TV – Sony Six and Sony Six HD

Live Streaming – Sony LIV

Match Timings – 5.30 IST; 10.30 local

Get the latest Cricket News and updates from Australia vs India series, Match PredictionsFantasy Cricket Tips and lots more on CricTracker.com.