After all the build-up, the India-Australia series will finally kick off on Friday at Chennai. It goes without saying that the team which performs better as a combined unit will emerge winners. At the same time, there are a few individual battles that could also impact the series. Here are a few battles within the battle that we believe could be significant factors in determining the outcome of the series.
Virender Sehwag vs James Pattinson
This will be a make or break series for the Indian opener. Sehwag has been practicing with spectacles on, and it is believed that he is also going to wear glasses while batting. One wonders whether his lack of form had something to with his weakening eyesight. We will come to know the answer soon. Over the last couple of seasons, Sehwag has been troubled by extreme pace, which is why how he performs against James Pattinson will be crucial. The Aussie youngster has the speed to trouble the best of Indian batsmen, and if he gets rid of Sehwag early he can definitely put the Indian batting line up under extreme pressure. The series will be a big test for Sehwag without doubt.
Sachin Tendulkar vs Mitchell Starc
Tendulkar’s struggles against left-arm bowling is well-known to the cricketing fraternity, especially to opponents the world over. In the past, the Indian great has struggled against the likes of Pedro Collins and even the spin of Monty Panesar during the recent series against England at home. In Starc, Australia have a bowler who can exploit this chink in Tendulkar’s game. Of late, bowlers have found it increasingly easy to get through the defence of Tendulkar. Starc has tasted success against India before, and he will be confident of delivering the big scalps.
Ishant Sharma vs David Warner
With Zaheer Khan unfit, Sharma will have to shoulder the responsibility of leading the attack once again. So far, he hasn’t proved up to the task. But with no other experienced pacer in the Indian side, Sharma will have to find a way to rise above the mundane. One of his main jobs will be to get the early wickets, Warner’s scalp will be particularly important. If the attacking left-hander gets off to a flying start, it will become exceedingly difficult for other bowlers to stop his onslaught. Hence, Sharma’s spells against Warner may turn out to be match-defining.
Harbhajan Singh vs Michael Clarke
Unlike Harbhajan’s bunny Ricky Ponting, Clarke has hardly been troubled by the Turbanator. But, considering the fact that the Aussies are fielding a highly inexperienced batting outfit, Clarke’s performance could be of utmost significance. Against the newcomers, Harbhajan might actually find it easier to pick up some wickets, but for that he will have to get past the experienced batsmen, Clarke in particular. The task won’t be easy for Harbhajan. The Australian captain has a brilliant record in India, and would be confident of continuing his good form. Can Harbhajan find a way past Clarke?
--By A Cricket Analyst