India and Australia players, who are in the UAE for the ongoing IPL 2020, are set to fly out to Australia a day after the IPL 2020 final on November 10. Red-ball specialists Cheteshwar Pujara and Hanuma Vihari along with India's coaching staff landed in the UAE on October 26, the same day as the Sunil Joshi-led selection committee announced the squads for the Australia tour.
India emerged victorious the last time they visited Australia as they won the 4-match Test series by a margin of 2-1 but that was a side without the services of former captain Steve Smith and prolific opener David Warner. This time Virat Kohli’s India will have to fight it out against a Tim Paine-led side powered by the Smith-Warner duo, Marnus Labuschagne and the best in the world pace attack led by Pat Cummins.
Preceding the 4-match Test series, commencing on December 17 in Adelaide, will be a 3-match ODI series and as many T20Is. The full-fledged tour will begin on November 27 in Sydney with the first ODI.
BCCI President Sourav Ganguly, speaking to India Today Sports Consulting Editor, Boria Majumdar in the latest episode of India Today Inspiration, said that all will depend on Virat Kohli’s captaincy and the way he uses his resources down under.
“Yes, it’s quality [Indian pace attack], there’s Navdeep Saini also who has improved enormously, enormously, than what we saw last year. Bowls at a good pace, good length, so India has the attack. It’s about Virat, and I’m saying this as a player not as a BCCI President, it’s about Virat just working with them and getting them to be at their best. He has to decide as a captain, who he wants to attack with, who he wants to defend with. At which stage of the game he wants to attack with an Ashwin or a Bumrah or a Saini or a Sharma or a Jadeja. It’s his captaincy skill,” Ganguly said.
‘Openers to play a big role in Australia’
Ganguly has stressed on the need for a strong opening partnership on Australian wickets. The former India captain said that ‘that’s when Test matches are won or Test matches are lost’ based on how the openers see off the first 20 overs.
“So he’s got the attack, he’s got the batting- opening will be very important when you go to England, when you go to Australia, when you go to South Africa, the first 20 overs are very important. You need a Mayank Agarwal or a Rohit Sharma or a Prithvi Shaw. There’s be edges, there’ll be the ball decking around and once the 20 overs pass, it’ll be a different game. And that’s when Test matches are won or Test matches are lost. That’s why I’ve said that Virender Sehwag is one of the all time greats for Indian cricket because in my generation, he just took the new ball apart with Dravid at 3 and it was a great combination to win Test matches. And I think Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, Rohit Sharma probably got to do that for Virat Kohli. We don’t want to see a Virat Kohli or a Rahane at [say] 15/2 with the ball still being new and a Cummins or a Starc or Hazlewood at their best with the new ball,” he added.
“India has won in Adelaide in 2003, in 2018 when they visited; so India has a history of winning in Adelaide. The first Test match starts in Adelaide. So play well and we’ll get on the right side of the series.”
India didn’t win in England due to lack of Test hundreds
Citing the example of their last win in Australia, Ganguly has reminded Virat Kohli’s Team India that, at the end of the day, runs will win them the Test series.
“Yeah and he must sit back and understand [speaking of Kohli] that he has got to play better away from home. Yes, Australia was a good series which they won but they should’ve done better in England, New Zealand, South Africa in Test matches and they are a capable side. They must have learned from that and everyone has to bat well. We didn’t win in England because we didn’t get Test match hundreds other than Virat Kohli and Pujara,” Ganguly added.
“You won in Australia because Pujara got you 500 runs, 3 hundreds, Virat got a hundred, Rishabh Pant got a hundred. Rahane got scores of 60, 70, 80s. That is the only way you’re going to win series. Hopefully they’ll fight hard, buckle down. The Australia will be a good attack with Cummins and Starc and Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon. In those conditions, they’ll play good attacks so it will be a good series.”