Border-Gavaskar Trophy: IND ready to defend!

With WTC final’s berth serving as an intriguing sub-plot, India have all to play for, and they will be ruthless about it.

Border-Gavaskar Trophy: IND ready to defend!
  • Sinchan Saha | February 8, 2023 | 5:52 pm

An important year for Indian cricket was the famous Border-Gavaskar Trophy in 2001. Because of the series, a new India emerged, defeating Australia, the dominant nation, in their attempt to conquer “The Final Frontier.” Even though Adam Gilchrist and co. did it in 2004, 19 years later, Australia is back in India for another riveting Border-Gavaskar series. This time, they won’t be trying to conquer a bastion; rather, they will be hoping for redemption.

India is the proud holder of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy; in fact, Australia has lost three series in a row without winning it, two of which have been played at home. Although it has been two years since India’s spectacular comeback at Brisbane’s Gabba Miracle, people still have vivid memories of it. In reference to the series defeat, captain Tim Paine had stated, “It hurts.”

It would still be detrimental to this Australian team, which is currently led by Pat Cummins, the cricket legend.

Cummins has done almost nothing wrong since taking over as captain. He has won eight of his 13 matches, winning only one at Galle and drawing four others. The 29-year-old’s rookie captaincy career will face its greatest obstacle in this series.

Moreover, this series is of the utmost importance to Rohit Sharma, even with this all-encompassing Indian team, which is on the verge of becoming the No. 1 team across all formats if they destroy Australia in the series. Rohit has missed three of India’s five Test matches since taking over as captain of all formats; In fact, Rohit has only appeared in two of India’s last ten Test matches.

We can assume that this will be his toughest Test, but more importantly, it is Rohit’s chance to get close to the elusive ICC Trophy.

The Indian captain has an intriguing carrot in the form of the subplot pertaining to the World Test Championship. The formula is straightforward: Beat Australia 3-0 to advance to the WTC final, which will be played at the Oval from July 7 to July 11 against their current opponents.

A series whitewash on the cards?

In the lead-up to the series, the Indian team’s “Devil May Care” approach to pitches and conditions is reflected in the tiniest of details. Any doubts about India’s WTC qualification will be put to rest by the price of winning at all costs—not just a win but a series whitewash. India will be satisfied with a 3-1 victory, but it appears that they will not take that chance, which brings the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, Jamtha, and its track into the picture.

A brown patchy dry pitch that left-arm spinners can exploit against left-handed pitchers. India has three tweakers with the left arm, and Australia’s top eight could have six southpaws—just do the math.

Here’s a little math: Ashwin and Jadeja have taken 99 wickets between them in India against Australia. At home, Axar Patel’s average is 12.43. Additionally, these three will most likely be prominent throughout the series and even the first test.

“Looks a little bit dry for the left-handers and knowing how much traffic will probably go through there from the right-arm bowlers, potentially might be a fair bit of rough out there,”

Cummins reiterated what Steve Smith had observed a day earlier.

And to make the most of the patch – India have not one, not two but three left-arm tweakers – add to that a left-arm seamer in Jaydev Unadkat.

Can India Rest Easy?

Despite the advantages of favorable conditions, the Indian camp cannot rest easy. They need to fill a big hole at No. 6, and the No. 5 spot is still open. When Nathan Lyon brings in his drift, loop, and tight lines, India’s top-order spin issues will also come into play.

KL Rahul has not scored more than 23 runs in any of his seven innings since Rohit’s last Test in March 2022. In the last 22 innings, Kohli has fallen to spinners 12 times, six times to left-arm spinners and six times to right-arm spinners. The 136 he scored in India’s first day-night Test match against Bangladesh at Eden Gardens remains his last Test hundred.

Despite India’s recent successes in the Test, particularly against spin, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant’s absence remains the team’s greatest challenge. Even though Suryakumar Yadav is a white-collar mercenary, his FC average is 44.75, which is comparable to that of other Indian domestic run machines. He will make his debut if he is selected.

The Pant Void follows next. Srikar Bharat will be trying to avoid being sucked into oblivion in this black hole. When Bharat came on in place of Wriddhamn Saha in the match against New Zealand in Kanpur, he showed that he is an excellent wicketkeeper by returning with two excellent catches and a neat stumping on a slow and low track.

The batting, however—the Pant Impetus, the Pant Intent, and the Pant Aggression—is a concern for India because it was one of the primary factors in India’s victories over Australia in the previous two series.

“The message to the boys has been very clear. We are ready to play horses for courses. On whichever pitch, whosoever we need we have to bring them in. As simple as that. That is something that we have spoken to the guys at the start of the series and we will continue to do that,”

Rohit said of the selection conundrum on the pre-match day.

The Horses for Course reference may indicate that SKY will be given the nod ahead of Gill and that an Axar will replace Kuldeep Yadav.

According to Cummins, his team is prepared to take on the challenge and relish in it. The skipper, on the other hand, must put on a brave face because India will come at them hard, as hard as they can, with a plan to destroy the Australians with spin, spin, spin, and a little bit more.

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The current streak of three Border-Gavaskar victories is India’s best ever. From 1947 to 1959 and 1967 to 1977, Australia had won three series in a row.