The wait is finally over. Six long years, two Border-Gavaskar wins for India in Australia, we are back in India, the fabled land for the spinners as Australia aim to finally climb the mountain. It isn’t an easy task for the visitors but it wasn’t easy for India either when they conquered the Australian land for two series in a row.
And, it all starts here in Nagpur, a venue that is notoriously known for aiding spinners. Vidarbha’s Aditya Sarwate was star of the show when a First-Class game was last played in Nagpur, with figures of 5/64 and 6/17 in the two innings against Gujarat. So, it is all about spin.
If you are in India, spin is something that you should encounter a lot. The first Test here in Nagpur won’t be any different, with 111 wickets at the venue across all the Tests being played taken by spinners. That’s a staggering 60.8% of the wickets here.
The last time there was a clash here at the Jamtha ground, it was the left-arm spinner Aditya Sarwate, with a truck load of wickets. In fact, it wasn’t just Sarwate, there was Siddharth Desai as well, who with his crafty left-arm spinner, picked up a six-wicket haul in the second innings.
From a batting point of view, it is safe to back top-order batters here, considering how the top-order batters (1-3) average 37.4, in comparison to the middle-order (35.8). So, that’s all the numbers that you need to worry about.
While you could go for the above team, you can also choose your team from Cricket.com’s Fantasy Research Centre. You can use this tool to build your team with the help of algorithms. Then, based on your preferences, the platform will guide you through creating the ideal fantasy XI.
For small leagues: Axar Patel (c), Steve Smith (vc)
For grand leagues: Ravichandran Ashwin (c), Nathan Lyon (vc)
Stats that matter
- Even though spin is going to play a huge role in this clash, there is a fascinating battle that awaits us around the corner – Pat Cummins vs Virat Kohli. Against Cummins, Kohli doesn’t have the best of numbers, with five dismissals and an average of just 16.4, the lowest for the batter against any bowler. Lyon vs Kohli isn’t as fascinating a battle as the one with Cummins.
- Since the start of 2016 Border Gavaskar Trophy, no batter has scored more runs than Cheteshwar Pujara, who has scored 1197 runs, with an average of 54.41. While he has been dismissed 22 times, the right-hander has scored the most-joint 50s (6), with KL Rahul. Only Smith has scored as many centuries as Pujara has during this phase.
- All eyes will be on the respective spin attacks, and more importantly on the trio of Jadeja, Axar and Ashwin. Axar has never faced Australia in the longest format but the left-arm spinner has picked up 47 wickets in Test career thus far, averaging 14.29. Whilst that is a joke in itself, both Ashwin and Jadeja have caused a trouble or two for the Australian batters – with 39 wickets each.
Grand League Punts
- In contests between the two sides in the last seven years, Nathan Lyon has been mightily effective, with 43 wickets, averaging 33 with the ball. Only Cummins from the Australian setup has come close to the off-spinner, with 43 wickets in ten Tests. And with conditions aiding spin, Lyon is going to be a big factor.
- Ashwin had a shocker of a series against Bangladesh, where he was very ineffective with the ball but in home conditions, the off-spinner is a different beast. And against an opposition that he knows pretty well, Australia, the all-rounder would be one of the biggest names to look out for. The off-spinner has picked up 39 wickets against Australia, and has an average of 27.4, with an opportunity to improve the same.
Here are the Top 10 Criclytics projections
India Probable XI: Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Shubman Gill/Suryakumar Yadav, KS Bharat (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami/Mohammed Siraj
Australia Probable XI: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Peter Handscomb, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins (c), Ashton Agar, Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland