The India-Australia series that starts at Chennai offers different opportunities to both teams. For Dhoni’s men, it gives the chance to redeem themselves after a forgettable series against England, and for Michael Clarke’s team, it affords the opportunity to consolidate from the gains of their summer.
Modern international schedules being what they are, touring teams hardly feel prepared as they enter the Test arena simply because there is not enough time to play the warm-up matches that not only allow the players to get used to conditions and pitches which are different from those at home but more crucially allow the body clock to tune in too.
England have the advantage of their cricketing summer not clashing with the other Test playing nations, so they can plan well ahead and give enough warm-up games to their team to get used to the conditions in the country that they are touring. That has been a huge aspect in their winning the Ashes in Australia a couple of years back and in beating India recently.
England paid India back in the same currency by employing spin to good effect. In Graeme Swann they had a world class spinner, but Monty Panesar, brought in after the first Test loss, bowled quite beautifully to break India's back and give England a rare series win in India. England also showed lot of patience and determination in batting, with their skipper Alastair Cook leading by example and their recovery after the heavy defeat in the first Test was astonishing to say the least.
Australia will have made notes on how England won in India but their methods will be different. For starters, they will be far more aggressive in intent, looking to dominate with both bat and ball. They will certainly have less patience than the English did and that could work both ways for them. As always, much will depend on the kind of starts they get with bat and ball. They will want to capitalise on the failure of India’s batting and try and put them under pressure with early wickets.
The pitches will be the key. At this time in India they tend to help the spinners more, so India's combination will be interesting to see. They may go with just one new ball bowler and play three spinners. They will also be playing with a new opening combination, and whether it is Vijay or Dhawan, from India’s point of view Virender Sehwag has to fire. If he does, then India can get away to a flying start that will ease the situation for the others to follow.
India-Australia series in the recent past have been tense and sometimes acrimonious as both had strong personalities at the helm. Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Michael Clarke are cool customers, so hopefully there will be more fireworks with bat and ball than hands and lips on the field.
Professional Management Group