#NewsBytesExplainer: Will a revamped Australia trouble India Down Under?
It has been over a year since Australia lost their first ever Test series to India at home. The Aussies stumbled more than ever without the presence of marquee players David Warner and Steve Smith. However, the Tim Paine-led side will look to avenge the loss when India visit Australia, later this year. Here is how a revamped Australia could perturb Team India.
The Australian team experienced a phase of dejection following the sandpaper gate. A rather inexperienced Tim Paine was handed the charge of Test side. Australia suffered defeats against Pakistan and India in Test cricket during the period. Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Test series at home rekindled their lost spark. It laid the foundation of Australia's terrific campaign in the 2019 WC and The Ashes.
The arrival of Smith and Warner bolstered Australia's top order in the Ashes. Although Warner had a forgettable tour, Smith went on to score a record 774 runs from four Tests. Marnus Labuschagne, who batted as concussion substitute in the Lord's Test, has become the mainstay batsman at number three. The 25-year-old may upset the rhythm of Indian seamers, along with Smith.
Having played 11 Tests, Labuschagne already boasts an average of 63.43, the highest among active cricketers. He was also the leading run-scorer (Tests) last year with 1,104 runs, followed by Steve Smith (965). Labuschagne recently scored a double ton against New Zealand.
Pat Cummins has been the linchpin of Australia's pace attack lately. He was the highest wicket-taker in Test cricket last year with 59 wickets. He also starred in the wickets tally (14), when India toured Down Under in 2018. Notably, Cummins dismissed Virat Kohli thrice in four Tests. He will be all guns blazing against the Indian skipper in the impending series.
The likes of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins will certainly test the Indian openers straight up. While Mayank Agarwal looked in terrific touch in the previous tour, it remains to be seen how the experienced Rohit Sharma performs as an opener in Australia. The Australian pacers will be aiming to make early inroads in the Indian batting line-up.
Nathan Lyon has been crucial to the team's success in recent times. He is only behind veterans Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath in the overall wickets section (Test cricket), having snapped up 390 wickets so far. Notwithstanding, the right-arm spinner was also the joint-highest wicket-taker (21) with Jasprit Bumrah in the previous home series. He will be eyeing a similar stint against the Indians.
Australia recently dethroned India at the top in the ICC Test Rankings. They have been unbeaten in the format since The Ashes, having trounced Pakistan 2-0 and New Zealand 3-0 respectively. Besides, Team India was handed a 0-2 series defeat by the Kiwis. The Kohli-led side will also engage in a mental battle Down Under to reclaim the number one spot.