Test cricket will attempt to return to some sort of normality tomorrow when Australia host India in Adelaide, after what has been an emotional couple of weeks with the tragic death of Phillip Hughes. In what is sure to be an emotional affair in Hughes’ adopted home city, Australian Captain Michael Clarke will return from injury to lead his side, while in the visitors camp Virat Kohli is set to become India’s 32nd Test captain, as MS Dhoni has not yet recovered in time from a thumb injury.
Previous Border-Gavaskar Trophy’s have started with a lot of trash talk amongst the two sides. Australia ever dominant at home against India. India usually retort back by saying that they’re just as dominant at home themselves. Build ups around ‘chin music’ spoken of by the media and players alike have disappeared.
The adjustment of the schedule to first Test in Adelaide rather than Brisbane means that India will open their series at the most comfortable venue for their style of play. Batting had been their biggest concern on their ill-fated tour of England months ago, the new drop in pitches at Adelaide Oval might offer India’s batsmen some respite from what they would have had to deal with at the Gabba. If the batsmen – especially the opening partnership of Dhawan and Vijay which has failed to even cross 50 once in overseas condition – prospers in Adelaide, they will take some much needed confidence into the second Test at the Gabba.
If the drop in pitches at Adelaide will provide respite for India’s batsmen, it will do the opposite to their bowlers. India come to Australia for the first time in a long time with a threatening pace attack, and despite Bhuvenashwar Kumar being ruled out of the first two Tests through injury, India have Aaron, Shami, Sharma and Yadaav to pick from, all of whom can bowl in the 140s. The flat pitch in Adelaide will mean they’ll have to toil hard for their wickets, which may dishearten them or even take the momentum away from them leading into the rest of the series, with all four Tests back to back.
While almost unplayable last summer in the home Ashes series, Australia more recently struggled against Pakistan in the Middle East. Wickets alluded Johnson, as did runs for the batsmen. Nathan Lyon has struggled for form, even in the Sheffield Shield upon returning to Australia. With the tragic loss of one of their team mates in recent weeks, Australia seem like a team with cracks showing, as well as very emotionally vulnerable right now. The Australians, more than anyone, need to get back on the park and start playing cricket.
With India’s recent form in Australia, and anywhere outside of Asia for that matter, Michael Clarke’s men will be looking to inflict more overseas pain on the Indian team. Perhaps a change of leadership – for the first Test at least – with Virat Kohli at the helm may change India’s fortunes in what is going to be a very emotionally and physically exhausting tour of Australia.