Sunday, December 7, 2014

Can Indian boys become men in Australia?




They say opportunity knocks, but, it often sneak up, and steals a way just as quickly, if not grasped

A thought that could be directly applied to the Indian cricket team as they embark on a 4 test series in Australia. They have a chance to turn around a history of futility on Australian shores with a record of a paltry five wins from the 40 tests. Most will scoff at entertaining this notion, but, a look at the series will conclude that it pits two evenly matched teams against each other.

In the lead up, the tragic death of Phillip Hughes, and its associated effects is likely to have a major bearing on both teams prospects. With it devastating the Australian players leaving them to deal with the grief of losing a beloved teammate. How they react to this is the great unknown, with many willing to speculate on its effect, and what the players on field response will be.

But, with grief being one of life's most misunderstood emotions, how can anyone truly know what the Aussie players mindsets will be?

The other side to this is it has led to the rescheduling of the series with the first test now being staged in Adelaide, rather than Brisbane. The change will rob Australia of momentum from ball one in the series. With the first match no longer being at a venue where they have 18 victories from their last 25 matches with their last defeat in 1989.While at the same time offering India a foothold into the series with the Adelaide pitch like a home away from home with its batting friendly demeanour, and potential to support spin as the pitch wares.

The series, after the re-fixturing a likely war of attrition, with four tests squeezed scheduled over just 32 days. It will sorely test Australia's personnel, with an injury cloud already hanging over Captain Michael Clarke, as well as Ryan Harris and Shane Watson noted for their fragile bodies. Any absence, in particular of the pivotal figures in Clarke and Harris from games, will be a huge blow to the hosts, as well as a leg up for India.

Can India take advantage?

Most, including the large percentage of Indian fans are expecting the combination of the conditions, and Australia's excellent pace attack to blow India's batting away.


But, the lovely irony in this is that it would not surprise if India's bowling did a similar job on Australia's frail batting.

It makes the series one decided on which team bats best, and on this point it is hard not to favour Australia's batting. The fact that it is in home conditions supports this, backed by the performances of Dave Warner and Steve Smith, who have respective averages of 67.83 and 56.3 with six centuries between them in 2014. The other factor in this is a sleeping giant in Michael Clarke, whose slumber has been symbolised by an average of 29.40 in 2014.

Depending on his fitness, with a nagging hamstring injury hanging over his head, and how many games he plays, his awakening in a batting sense could be the deciding factor in the series.

Looking at their Indian counterparts, if one bases their prospects on a statistical look at 2014 then you would be a fool to attach any faith in them. With, none of their projected top 6 averaging over 38.41 in 2014. It would be easy to take these figures as a sign of India's batting lacking calibre. Especially away from home where they have played all of their seven tests this year.

In defence of these struggles, 4 of the top 6 in the batting have all shown real class by scoring centuries. With further support given when looking at their performances in South Africa last year against a similar high-class attack, where 3 of their top 6 averaged over 68.

The conclusion to make about the Indian batting is it is brimming with talent, and it would not surprise if they used this series as a coming out party

When looking at the respective teams batting, the crucial part from a series standpoint will be the performance of both teams top three. With success or failure of this part of the batting having a large bearing on how both teams strong middle order will perform.

Looming large here is Dave Warner, and whether the Indian bowlers can control a batsman that has been on a 13 month tear with 1305 runs at an average of 68.68. Equally as important from the Indian standpoint is Cheteshwar Pujara. Who looked a very able replacement for Rahul Dravid at three, but, had an issue exposed in his batting in England against the ball nipping back into him.

Ryan Harris is a master of this, and his stern interrogation of Pujara will be a series highlight that could be decisive.

Lastly, away from the batting, how both teams field, especially their catching will be crucial. With Australia embarrassing themselves in this regard against Pakistan recently, and Indians fans left to bemoan what if in the series against both New Zealand and England.

Where, if they held their catches the results in both series might have ended in their favour.

Prediction

I want Australia to win as a mark of respect for the sad passing of Phillip Hughes.

But, call me insane, but, I just think India will get it done


So, a 2/1 upset series win to India



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