Ever since India and Australia played that unforgettable Test series in 2001 when India came back from behind to win the three match series 2-1, the contests between these two countries in all formats of the game have been widely followed and anticipated as well.
If anything, these clashes have become the iconic ones that earlier used to be between India and neighbours Pakistan. The neighbours don’t play each other apart from multilateral competitions and the occasional politically influenced tour, so most cricket lovers on both sides of the border have lost the flavour, and as happens in such a scenario, developed a taste for something else.
If the Pakistan-South Africa contests are well matched and thus followed with greater interest in Pakistan, in India, it is the Aussies that Indian fans want to see. What they have seen earlier in the year is an Australian team which was just a shadow of itself and got beaten in all the four Test matches it played, with the last test in Delhi finishing in just three days.
This Australian team will be without its captain and its main batting mainstay Michael Clarke, and that is not going to make it easy for them. What is going to be their plus point is that there are a number of new players who come to India without having suffered the trauma of that heavy loss earlier in the year.
That is such a big psychological advantage, for the youngsters will play freely and not hark back on what had happened. The other advantage is that a lot of their players have been in India for the Champions League that concluded a couple of days back and so are acclimatised not only to the conditions but the pitches as well. That is why the matches will be pretty close, though India with its recent run in limited overs cricket will start as the favourites.
The India team has one major change and that is the inclusion of Yuvraj Singh. The southpaw has been in terrific form ever since he has come back from the intense fitness regime in France, and his early season form was such that the selectors had no option but to include him in the squad. 'Yuvi' will give the thrust that the team was sometimes lacking in the middle overs, and with his left arm spin he will be very handy too.
This short trip will be just the appetiser for Indian cricket before the momentous 200th Test match of 'The Master', and the India players will no doubt want to make it a delicious one.
Professional Management Group