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India look to extend unbeaten run

On a fairytale 19-match unbeaten streak, India would seek extension of their incredible dominance on home turf when they clash against an aggressive Australia in the four-Test series, beginning here tomorrow.

India look to extend unbeaten run
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Indian captain Virat Kohli during practice ahead of the first Test in Pune

Pune

The series against the Steve Smith-led side is the fourth and last home series of the 201617 season for India, who have conjured up emphatic victories over New Zealand (3-0), England (4-0) and Bangladesh (oneoff Test). 

India are going into the rubber, seeking their seventh successive series win going back to the three-Test away series against Sri Lanka in 2015. There are several factors in India's stupendous run, chief among those being captain Virat Kohli's phenomenal run with the bat. The young captain has truly led from the front by notching up four double hundreds. Kohli is averaging over 80 after accumulating 1457 runs in the last 13 Tests and Australia will need to find ways to curtail his brilliance to stop the Indian Juggernaut. 

The other major factor has been the excellent bowling by spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, incidentally the top two bowlers in the ICC rankings. Off-spinner Ashwin has grabbed 78 wickets in 13 games during the same period with 8 five-fors at an average of just over 24 while left-armer Jadeja has scalped 49 wickets in 10 Tests at just under 25. The spin twins, who combined forces to rout New Zealand and England, again pose a major threat to the Australians. 

In addition to these three players' consistent performance, the support from batsmen such as opener Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara and from other bowlers has been invaluable. The stubborn lower-order batting has often helped the team come out of tricky situations and score big. As coach Anil Kumble pointed out yesterday, India have not fielded the same eleven during this successful phase due to a variety of reasons including injuries. But each replacement has been bang-on and delivered the goods. 

India's unbeaten 19-Test run commenced with a victory in the second Test of the series in Sri Lanka. At home, India have not tasted defeat since drawing the fourth and final Test of the 2012-13 series against England. During this period they have played 20 Tests, won 17 and drawn three, a fine record by any reckoning.. This is what the Australians would like to blot in Pune.

FIXTURES 

  • 1st Test February 23-27, PUNE 
  • 2nd Test March 4-8, BENGALURU 
  • 3rd Test March 16-20, RANCHI 
  • 4th Test March 25-29, DHARAMSALA

HEAD TO HEAD 

Total 90 

Australia win 40 

India win 24 

Draws 25 

Tied 1 

IN INDIA 

Total 46 

India win 19 

Australia win 12 

Draws 14 

Tied 1

INDIA 

  • Test ranking: 1 
  • Captain: Virat Kohli 
  • Coach: Anil Kumble 
  • Squad: Virat Kohli, Murali Vijay, Lokesh Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha (wicketkeeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Karun Nair, Jayant Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav, Abhinav Mukund and Hardik Pandya

AUSTRALIA 

  • Test ranking: 2 
  • Coach: Darren Lehmann 
  • Captain: Steve Smith 
  • Squad: Steve Smith (captain), David Warner, Matt Renshaw, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Matt Wade, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird, Nathan Lyon, Stephen O’Keefe, Ashton Agar and Mitchell Swepson

LAST SERIES 

In India 

1st Test: Chennai Feb 2013: India won by eight wickets

2nd Test: Hyderabad March 2013: India won by an innings and 135 runs

3rd Test: Mohali: March 2013: India won by six wickets

4th Test: Delhi: March 2013: India won by six wickets

In Australia 

1st Test: Adelaide Dec 2014: Australia won by 48 runs

2nd Test: Brisbane Dec 2014: Australia won by four wickets

3rd Test: Melbourne Dec 2014: Drawn

4th Test: Sydney Jan 2015: Drawn

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