Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Expect an unexpected Brisbane test match

Fortress GABBA, where Australia has not lost a test since 1988 pitted against Indian opposition....

The scenario points to a certain win for Australia, likely before lunch on the third day. With the fast and bouncy pitch tailor-made for their bevvy of quicks to exploit the Indian batsmen who historically struggle in such confines. The Aussie batsmen, also love the ball coming onto the bat in true conditions supported by a lightning outfield and short boundaries.

The loss of Michael Clarke and Ryan Harris in the lead up to the match has skewed this certainty, with Australia deprived of its best batsman and the leader of its bowling attack. Both losses are knee buckling blows, with it neutralising the conditions being in their favour due to the team not being as equipped to exploit them. 

Firstly on the teams batting, Clarke's absence robs the team not only of his batting mastery, but the associated shielding, and pressure it takes off others. With him out, it puts a further focus on Dave Warner and Steven Smith to carry the batting. Who collectively, if you take out Clarke's runs have represented 55.2% of the top 7's 3329 runs in 2014. The bowling sans Harris is equally as compromised with it lacking the balance he brings to the attack through his expertise in both defensive and attacking bowling styles.  One can never doubt Mitchell Johnson's potential devastation, but, he is lessened without the relentless pressure that Harris represents on batsmen. Which supports, as well as facilitates Johnson's lethal blitzkrieg attacking spells. Australia will rely on the inexperienced duo of Mitchell Starc and d├ębutante Josh Hazelwood to be factors, or, be faced with the prospect of the Indian batsmen seeing off Johnson and preying on the other quicks..

In the face of these factors that attaches doubt to Australia's chances, it raises the question, can India find a way to take advantage? 

Factoring heavily in answering this is the Indian line up being steeled by the inclusion of Captain M.S.Dhoni. With him adding an assuredness to balance out the teams youthful exuberance, ensuring it captivates with controlled aggression instead of lurching into self-defeating recklessness.

Most will see the key for India in their batsmen ability against the bounce and pace, but, this has already been proven in overseas tours recently. Significantly in South Africa last year against a pace trio of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander, where 3 of India's current top 6 averaged over 68. The greater concern for the batting is their obvious weakness against spin, as highlighted by Australian off-spinner destroying them in the first test with match figures of 286/12. Lyon looms large in this match with his average of 21,86 at the venue showing how he revels supported by the pace and bounce of the GABBA pitch.

How the Indian batsmen content with the spinner will be intriguing, but, the inclusion of Ravichandran Ashwin could aid in neutralising Lyon's effect. I say this for there was no doubt that Lyon was both brilliant and courageous in the first test, but, he was also empowered by the rough outside leg for the right handers. Initially created by India's Ishant Sharma bowling around the wicket. Compounded by the Aussie quicks following suit in the knowledge that it will solely favour Lyon, due, to India lacking a viable off spinning option.

With Australia going into this test with four right-handers in their top 7, and a noted weakness against spin, do you think they will employ similar tactics with a viable off-spinner in India's team?

Lastly, and decisively, can the Indian bowling unit standup?

One that offers glimpses, only to undo their potential with their inability to sustain any pressure on the opposition. The loss of Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been a bitter blow, one accentuated by Ishant Sharma's inability to maintain his excellence from 2014. As well as the duo of Varun Aaron and Mohammed Shami struggling. Umesh Yadav, who is equally as pacey, but, with greater control needs to replace Aaron

How they perform will decide this test, with them either rising to exploit the fragile Aussie batting or, conversely making them look good through their lack of consistency


I have no faith in an Aussie outfit missing both Michael Clarke and Ryan Harris

So, I am going to predict a surprise Indian victory

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