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Monday, December 08, 2014

Tests resume after itinerary reshuffle

Test cricket resumes tomorrow here at the now completely upgraded Adelaide Oval.

As recent Australia v India contests have been decided - usually emphatically - by the home ground advantage, so on that line of reasoning Australia will start favourites. 

But, setting aside the unknown consequences of Phillip Hughes's death the week before last, Australia's Test record has been uneven. A recent 0-2 drubbing by Pakistan in the UAE after a 2-1 win in South Africa earlier in the year ( and of course last season's trouncing of England here) suggests some wobbles in Australia's performance.

And this is where its weakness may lie: have several of the selected team passed their best, or just temporarily lost form? I'm talking about Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon, each of whom underperformed in the UAE and South Africa, and thinking about Brad Haddin, whose Ashes batting form deserted him
there. Had there not been a cloud over Michael Clarke's fitness, which has now we are told lifted, and the consequent need to have a safe pair of hands (not Shane Watson) as deputy/ understudy, he might 
Not have been named in the team.

India's main shortcomings are inexperience and their record of poor performance away from home. Three years ago the batting was packed with greats - Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman and Sehwag - but the team still lost 4-0. Only Virat Kohli, who will lead the team tomorrow in the absence of an injured MS Dhoni, enhanced his reputation then. 

I watched some of the two two day warm up matches played here and didn't learn much. The opposition - scratch teams of fringe first class players and promising juniors - didn't, with a couple of exceptions, extend the Indians much. Tomorrow is forecast to be fine and sunny (max 32C) but there may be rain the day after. India would be happy with a draw, whereas Australia will be going all out for victory.


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