Since the last time India faced Australia in a Test Match, the side has undergone drastic changes. Virat Kohli has taken over as full-time captain from MS Dhoni in all formats, Anil Kumble has been appointed as coach in place of Ravi Shastri and the team in general have undergone a world of change right from the mentality to the quality of performances. India were ranked No.7 in the world at the time, and are now comfortably the No.1 Test side in world following series wins over Sri Lanka and West Indies away, and comprehensive series victories over South Africa, New Zealand, England and Bangladesh on home soil.
India On Top Of The World Ahead Of Aussie Challenge
India have been on a 19-match unbeaten streak, and have looked invincible in the past 18 months or so. They’ve dominated Test matches and whenever they been in difficult situations, they have managed to find a way to overturn them into victories. Virat Kohli and Anil Kumble have imposed a style of play and the team the team is playing with a lot of freedom, like never before. It is probably an overstatement but in many ways, this Indian team and Virat Kohli resemble Ricky Ponting and his all-conquering Australian side in the early 2000’s. Of course, there’s still some way to go to replicate their achievements, and that may not even happen, but the transformation of this team from a bunch of youngsters following a group of legends who all hung up their boots at more or less the same time, to a team that look fearless and playing incredible cricket, is nothing short of astonishing. A lot of credit has to go to Kohli and Kumble’s insistence on setting high standards and always opting to play for a win.
The batting line-up looks solid as ever, and there are many options in each position. The fact that Karun Nair was dropped immediately after becoming only the second Indian to score a triple century says a lot about the bench strength and the intense competition for places in the side. Vijay and Pujara have become really dependable players at the top and KL Rahul has shined whenever he’s played. Virat Kohli always seems to be in the form of his life and his run-scoring prowess is mind-boggling. Ajinkya Rahane has been consistent as ever, and although he’s lost his vice-captaincy, he’s one of the very important members of the team. The likes of Karun Nair, Rohit Sharma, and Shikhar Dhawan remain in the fringes of the side and provide intense competition. In Wriddhiman Saha and an able back-up in Parthiv Patel, India aren’t short in the wicket-keeping, either. Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja are a world-class pair of spinners, and in Jayant Yadav and Amit Mishra, India have other options who can provide variety to the attack. The fast bowling stocks have also vastly improved under Kohli, with Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar all in the reckoning for the spot in the team. There are also promising talents like Jasprit Bumrah and Shardul Thakur in the fringes of the squad. Hardik Pandya is being groomed to take up the mantle as the primary fast bowling all-rounder in the side, and although he still is just a work in progress, he is supremely talented and is capable of reaching great heights.
When MS Dhoni retired from Tests, there were a lot of inexperienced players and the new captain himself, Virat Kohli, coming off a poor series against England. Now, there has been a sea of change and the mentality of the team has changed a lot, as well. So, with the Australia series on the horizon, India, who were in doldrums the last time they faced Australia and coming off a poor performance against England earlier in the year are now coming off a comprehensive 4-0 series win over England and are in a 19 match unbeaten streak. That, in itself, shows how much has changed and with the way the team is performing, not many would bet against another comprehensive series win over Australia. Sterner challenges like the one away in South Africa lie ahead this year, and that would prove to be the real test, but for now, India will focus on producing a repeat of a 4-0 series win at home against Australia just like the last time around Australia visited these shores.