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Monday, December 24, 2007

India-Australia 2007 series preview

The most toughest tour of all for all teams in the world will be without any doubt, the Australian. The Indians are the only ones who have come back from the Ozzie Land (in the last 10 years or more) with their heads high. Their performance during the last series was against a team which did not have Glen Mcgrath and Shane Warne, due to various reasons. They are not part of the team now also. Will the series result be the same? Or even better for the Indians? Doubtful.

As far as Australia is concerned, they seem to have found able replacements for their retired greats - as was visible during the recent series against Sri Lanka. Phil Jacques scored centuries against an attack that cannot be called mediocre. Mitchell Johnson has come up very well and did a decent job in the tests - his ODI experience must have contributed quite a bit to his test debut. Stuart Clark played the supporting role as has been his wont, but the leader was clearly Brett Lee. He has realized that his time has come to lead the test attack and what a response he gave - 16 wickets in 2 test matches. This has made him the bowler the Indians have to watch for. The fourth bowling option was Stuart Macgill in the earlier series but his injury has opened up the slot to Shaun Tait or Brad Hogg. The pitch will ensure that Ponting will take the field with Hogg rather than a four-man pace attack. Also, the fact that the Indian batsmen struggled to read his wrong 'un will make the case stronger for Brad. The batting looks strong with Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Andrew Symonds scoring well in all their opportunities they received. Adam Gilchrist might be slowing down, atleast in the test arena - this factor might spur him onto newer challenges this series.

The Indians, on the other hand, have a middle-order that any team in the world will feel jealous at. Much has been made at the age of the middle order but the same holds true for the Ozzie batsmen as well. The chance to do well on the Aussie soil is probably the biggest challenge that they have faced in their glittering careers - and they will want to leave the shores with their head high. The only weak link is the 2nd opener slot - Sehwag might not be risked in the test series, as he has not done anything spectacular at all. If he has to be played in the batting eleven, it will be more on historical grounds rather than any other reason. The bowling is a mix of experienced and new, with Zaheer Khan and Anil Kumble being the leaders. Zaheer's fitness is still a question and how he comes back will be quite interesting to watch. RP Singh has done well earlier this year and if he is back in prime health, will prove to be a handy third bowler. The fourth bowling option would have to be Ishant Sharma, purely to avoid the sameness of the line of bowling attack. To give credit to him, he did a decent job in the last test match against the Pakistanis. Sreesanth would have been handy on these wickets but his shoulder injury has given him no chances.

Overall, the Indians would do well to adjust to the higher bounce of the Aussie wickets quickly. This will give them a good chance to challenge the Aussies more than any other teams in the recent past. The Sydney wicket will be interesting since it helps spin traditionally - just like the Perth wicket offers more bounce. The Melbourne and Adelaide wickets will probably be decided in the favour of the team that can put the runs on the board and take 20 wickets. So easy, isnt it? The series will be a close one, ending in the Aussies direction, from my calculations. But, I would be over the moon if the Indians can prove me wrong.
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