The absence of an injured Rohit will leave a gaping hole at the top of the order, something that skipper Virat Kohli wouldn’t have fancied at the onset of a two-month tour. India, which had been on a COVID-enforced break since the disastrous away series against New Zealand in March, now kick starts its international calendar.
It will be interesting to see how the away side gets its combination. Irrespective of who partners Shikhar Dhawan – be it Shubman Gill or Mayank Agarwal – the challenge of facing a Mitchell Starc or Pat Cummins first up will be an onerous one.
So, Kohli again has his task cut out as he gears up to combat a high-quality pace attack, which is likely to be complemented by leg-spinner Adam Zampa. Facing Aaron Finch-led Australia in its own backyard with Steve Smith, David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne isn’t the best of propositions and thus some priorities will be tested. Pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami could both start, but the team management may have to rest one of the two alternately, keeping in mind the four-match Test series.
Then, there will be an acid test in store for wicketkeeper-batsman KL Rahul. The 28-year-old behind the stumps is an inspired move to lend the necessary balance.
If it is Hardik Pandya’s explosive hitting that will give his captain the confidence to play two spinners, Shreyas Iyer’s show at No.4 during the last tour remains a feel-good factor. Yuzvendra Chahal could be the man that the Australia middle-order would be wary of.
INDIA: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill, KL Rahul (vc & wk), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Sanju Samson (wk), Hardik Pandya, Mayank Agarwal, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini and Shardul Thakur
AUSTRALIA: Aaron Finch (c), David Warner, Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood, Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Cameron Green, Moises Henriques, Andrew Tye, Daniel Sams and Matthew Wade (wk)