A new look Australian team take on India tomorrow.
When India take on Australia tomorrow at Chennai, it will be a new beginnings for the two old rivals. Since the last time the two sides met, they have both lost a few key players - players who over the last decade and more had stood as proud representatives of their teams - to retirement and a few to injuries and selection policies. Australia are coming from one of their best performances at home in recent times and under Skipper Clarke they young team has rallied itself, while India on the other hand are facing another stern test with plenty of questions still to be answered after having lost the previous series against England at home. And hence for the old rivalry, this series will be a new chapter as two bold teams, filled with young blood take on each other.
The major difference in this clash between the two teams is the since the last time these two met, titans of the game on both sides have called it a day. VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Michael Hussey, Ricky Ponting are more than just mere names in their teams and hold a place of reverence in the India - Australian rivalry and now the teams must look beyond them for new heroes to carry on the baton. India already have found Cheteshwar Pujara who held his own in the series against England and managed to convince one and all that he has a long test career ahead of him, while the Aussies have David Warner who seems to have taken his aggressive T20 hitting abilities to another level in test cricket. There are also many on the sides of both teams who have just started their test career and still haven't cemented their places such as Ed Cowan and Murali Vijay and this series will be interesting to see how they fare. Also with a couple debuts bound to occur when Rahane and Henriques take field, the series will also kick-start a few test careers.
Another interesting thing is the bowling units of both the sides. Both of them have relatively young attacks though Australia's pace battery with Siddle, Pattinson and Starc look more than formidable and the challenge for them will be adapting to the Indian pitches with their lack of bounce and side ways movement. India too in the pace department have a few new faces with Zaheer Khan still missing. India's spin department will be headed by seasoned campaigner, Harbhajan Singh who will be playing his 100th test match tomorrow, becoming only the 10th Indian to achieve the feat and lot hangs on the Turbanator as he'll be expected to work magic as he did against the Australians in 2001. With Harbhajan's career in the balance, this series is certainly a new chapter in his career and he has the opportunity to settle the question over his future with a truck load of wickets. Lack of them might also answer the question.
With both the bowling attacks looking quite different, it certainly will be intriguing to see whether it is the pace battery or the spinners who win the battle. How the Australian batsmen adapt to the Indian spinners will be vital for their success and if the match against India A is anything to go by, then they have work to do.
Michael Clarke, last year had an annus mirabilis and he'd be keen to continue that form as he leads a very young team that other than Mitchel Johnson and himself have no other player having played at least 50 tests. The lack of experience is sure to be a huge disadvantage. India while they do have some youngsters, there are still a few seniors in Tendulkar, Sehwag, Harbhajan and Dhoni and the fortunes of these players will be vital. Sehwag specially is under pressure to perform and if he can get India off to a good start, then it's bound to settle the nerves of the inexperienced middle-order. MS Dhoni in recent times has come under plenty of flack over his leadership and though, this Australian team might not be as strong as the previous ones, he's bound to have his hands full.
Tomorrow a new chapter in the short but intense India - Australian rivalry will begin and it should make a grand spectacle to watch as present day history gets scripted.