Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Final Frontier

© AFP
Just few hours to go for the India-Australia Test series to begin - one of the most awaited Test series of the year. First Test will be played on Boxing Day, a traditional event at MCG.

There is something special about a Test series in Australia, since time-zones are different the matches start early in the morning at 5:30 am in India and it makes watching Test matches even more interesting. Fresh winter mornings, cup of tea in hand, the sound of bat hitting the ball and the noise & claps from the crowd makes it an amazing atmosphere for a cricket match. Pure bliss for a cricket lover. 

India and Australia have produced some interesting battles in the last decade, India were the only team which challenged them continuously both at home and away during their golden era. Kolkata 2001 and Adelaide 2003 stand out as two epic encounters. Despite of all the odds, India emerged victorious both the times. There was one thing common in both the matches - 300+ runs partnership between Dravid and Laxman. We, the Indian fans are expecting something similar from the duo this time too. 

I think Indian team has their best chance to register a series victory down under. The Australian team is going through a rebuilding phase, they are not as strong and consistent as they used to be. There is no doubt about the talent in the team but still the inexperience in the side might hurt Australia. 

Since Pat Cummins has been ruled out of the first 3 Tests, James Pattinson is the one Aussie bowler I am looking forward to. With the pace and talent Pattinson has, facing him would be a bit of a challenge for Indian batsmen. Nathan Lyon is also a good find. 

Though the Australian team has lots of youngsters and a new captain, they haven't lost a series under Michael Clarke so far and that should count as an achievement for a young team. Maybe there were some poor performances here and there but underestimating them would be a big mistake. 

On the other hand India might see the trio of Sachin, Dravid and Laxman playing together for the last time. After years of struggle in Australia it might force them to win the series this time. Indian team will depend a lot on their bowling though especially Zaheer Khan, he with Ishant and Umesh can create a formidable pace attack given everyone stays fit. 

Some people are so obsessed with Sachin’s 100th International hundred that they are ignoring the primary thing - cricket is a team game and winning is the primary goal. If Sachin scores his 100th hundred during the course of the series, I would be very happy but it doesn’t mean we should start talking about it every time he walks out to bat there. As he said 100 is just a number, I bet even Sachin would be more happy if his 70s or 80s helps India to win their first series in Australia.

One man who is going to play a crucial role in this series is Virender Sehwag, still can’t forget his brilliant 195 at MCG during the 2003-04 Border-Gavskar series and since he is coming after scoring a record-breaking 219 in ODIs, there is a good chance of bettering his score at MCG this time. 

I have no doubt that India can win the series if they play to their full potential. As an Indian Cricket fan, I wish them all the best for the tour down under. Hope team does well and gives us a series win as a New Year gift.

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