India vs. Australia: Player head-to-head
Who holds the advantage in India’s much awaited tour of Australia? Our expert looks at a man-versus-man analysis and thinks the visitors have a slight edge.
India is set to take on Australia in what should be a competitive four match series. This is about as good a chance India will have to win a series Down Under since they’ll be going up against an inexperienced Aussie side that’s in the midst of transition. India, for their part, has had a poor year in Tests given their form in 2009 and 2010. The West Indies tour was an unconvincing 1-0 victory and the England debacle is still fresh in most people’s memory. A series victory in Australia is just what the team needs in an effort to climb back to the top of the Test rankings.
For the Boxing Day Test at the MCG, Australia has named their 13-man squad. The final XI will come down to a toss-up between Hilfenhaus and Starc for the third seamer position and a fitness decision on Shaun Marsh. Marsh will play and bat at three if fit, else Daniel Christian will get in and bat at six.
The Indian batting line-up selects itself assuming everyone stays fit, with Kohli joining the ‘Fab Five’ of Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman, Sehwag and Gambhir. The bowling line-up is less certain with questions on Ishant’s fitness - you’ll probably end up with Zaheer, Ishant (if fit), one of Umesh Yadav/Abhimanyu Mithun/Vinay Kumar/Varun Aaron with Ashwin and Ojha fighting for the spinner spot. In doing my player head-to-head, I assumed India will end up going with Umesh and Ashwin.
Below is a snapshot of the player head-to-head by position.
What stands out is Australia’s lack of experience. On the bowling front, Zaheer Khan has more wickets in his career than the entire Australia team combined. With the batting, Australia will have Cowan, Warner and Marsh/Christian who between them have 5 Test matches worth of experience. If you did a head-to-head down the list, here’s what my picks would be:
Australia 0-1 India: Sehwag over Cowan, though watch out for Cowan - he’s been in good form on the domestic circuit and impressed with a century in the tour game
Australia 0.5-1.5 India: Calling it even between Warner and Gambhir, based on Warner’s early credentials and form to counter Gambhir’s experience
Australia 0.5-2.5 India: Dravid over Marsh, easy pick
Australia 1-3 India: Called it even on Tendulkar and Ponting, since Sachin has not had a great year and Ponting is starting to look better (plus he’s going to be out to prove a point in this series, which is when he is at his most dangerous)
Australia 1.5-3.5 India: Clarke-Laxman is another difficult one, I would have picked Laxman 3 months ago but Clarke’s looked good lately with 3 hundreds in his last 8 innings, called it even
Australia 2.5-3.5 India: Mr. Cricket ahead of an inexperienced Kohli
Australia 2.5-4.5 India: Wasn’t easy picking Dhoni over Haddin (this is one I am the least sure of, Dhoni was outplayed by Prior on India’s last overseas tour), but Dhoni tends to come good when it counts
Australia 3-5 India: Ashwin vs. Lyon seems like a dead heat, and should be one of the more intriguing battles this summer
Australia 3-6 India: Zaheer Khan over any Aussie bowler, assuming Zak stays fit
Australia 3.5-6.5 India: I would have picked Ishant if not for his fitness concerns, throw in anyone else (Mithun, Vinay Kumar and Aaron) and I’d give the advantage to Starc/Hilfenhaus with the home advantage, calling it even for now
Australia 4.5-6.5 India: Pattinson has looked very promising in his two Tests so far, expect him to cause the Indian batsmen some trouble
Overall, the head-to-head is a fairly close one but India wins 6.5-4.5. Whether that translates into success on the field is something only time will tell, for now I’ll go with a prediction of India winning the series 2-1.