It’s been over a month since the Australian team landed in India for the four-Test Border-Gavaskar Trophy. The tour began with the warm-up game at Mumbai’s Brabourne Stadium. While Australia fielded a full-fledged side sans Mitchell Starc, India included several uncapped First-Class players. The visitors were on a nine-match losing streak on Asian conditions and were in a desperate situation to change that in the India series.
In the tour match, Australian openers David Warner and Matt Renshaw struggled against the uncapped players. Delhi’s Navdeep Saini removed them cheaply, early in the innings. Mumbai’s all-rounder Akhil Herwadkar also chipped in with crucial overs and also picked the wicket of Matthew Wade. Barring skipper Steven Smith and Shaun Marsh, the visitors went down to an inexperienced Indian attack.
Australia’s surprise package Test series
There were no surprises as Australia were expected to sink on the trickiest Indian tracks. The shocker awaited India in Pune. An all-round show from Smith’s boys finally ended India’s 19-match winning streak. The second Test was played in Bengaluru, where Virat Kohli’s India levelled the series 1-1. The third game at Ranchi revived the essence of Test cricket. India and Australia produced top-class brand of cricket and drew the match, keeping the series locked at 1-1.
There has been heaps of cricket in the last month and a half. With the fourth and final Test underway in the HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala, the climax of the tour has arrived. The Border-Gavaskar series has been one of the best ones between India and Australia. From the bundle of runs scored, incredible bowling to the controversies that came along the aggression in the atmosphere, every minute of the series was worthy.
Retaining the top-level, the Day one of the decider match in Dharamsala was as thrilling as it was anticipated. With just four more days left in the series, the focus has already begun to shift towards the next big tournament – the Indian Premier League (IPL). The tenth edition of the IPL is set to take off from April 5 in Hyderabad, the ground where India and Australia did not play a Test this time.
Out of the playing XI Australia fielded in the Dharamsala; Smith, Warner, Glenn Maxwell and Pat Cummins are the players who will stay back in India for the IPL. Regardless of the result of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2017, the visitors have impressed with both bat and ball, giving their respective IPL franchises a sigh of relief.
Steven Smith – Rising Pune Supergiants:
When the Indians slowly digested the fact that MS Dhoni will not lead India in the blue colour anymore, they were subjected to another blow. The hullabaloo was created when the owners of Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS) replaced Dhoni by Smith as the captain of RPS for the IPL 2017. There were criticisms for not choosing an Indian to lead the side, despite the fact that RPS had the likes of Ajinkya Rahane and Ravichandran Ashwin, who are sure captain-material.
— RisingPuneSupergiant (@RPSupergiants) March 25, 2017
However, the timing of Smith’s excellent captaincy in the ongoing Test series was perfect timing. More importantly, he led his team from the front and scored runs in all the grounds they have played in the series. Out of the four stadiums, Pune and Bengaluru are among the IPL 2017’s venues. It was a Test debut for Pune’s Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium and Smith left his mark when he was the only centurion of the match. Although the crowd for cheering for the Indian side ,then, the same spectators would go on to support this man a few months later when he will wear RPS’ captain’s armband.
— RisingPuneSupergiant (@RPSupergiants) March 25, 2017
With a final innings to go in the Test series, he has 482 runs, inclusive of three hundreds, to his name. By doing so, he has put an end to all the doubts regarding his role as RPS’ skipper.
David Warner – Sunrisers Hyderabad:
There is a saying, “better late than never!” This goes perfectly with Australia’s vice-captain and Hyderabad’s captain Warner. He scored just 131 runs in the first three Tests and those numbers definitely do not define the potential in a player like Warner. He finally showed his glimpses of what he is capable of on Saturday. After Renshaw as dismissed early, he built a stand of 134 runs for the second wicket with Smith to give Australia a flying start in an important match.
He was dismissed by debutante Kuldeep Yadav, who represents Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the IPL. Warner became Kuldeep’s maiden Test wicket that earned a lot of attention on social media. Coincidentally, Warner’s SRH-teammate, Yuvraj Singh was Kuldeep’s first First-Class wicket.
— Suvajit Mustafi (Rivu) (@RibsGully) March 25, 2017
It was his first half-century of the series. It went without saying that his poor form was of a concern for both Australia and his IPL franchise, Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH). The Indian T20 league has been scheduled right after the end of the Test series and Warner’s form was crucial for the defending champions, Sunrisers. He was their top run-scorer in the 2016 edition with 848 runs in 17 matches.
After a fight, here's David Warner's 50. Well done Davey. #INDvAUS
— SunRisers Hyderabad (@SunRisers) March 25, 2017
Pat Cummins – Delhi Daredevils:
There was a gap of six long years between Cummins’ first and second Test. The third Test between India and Ranchi was Cummins’ second Test where he was called in to fill in injured Mitchell Starc’s shoes. An experienced 23-year-old Cummins ran through the Indian side with Kohli being his first wicket of the series. The celebrations said it all; Kohli’s wicket meant a big deal for the youngster. He then went on to dismiss KL Rahul, Rahane and Ashwin.
— Delhi Capitals (@DelhiCapitals) March 21, 2017
Cummins, who has made a solid impression for himself at a very young age, has been considered a future prospect of Australia. Delhi Daredevils signed him during the IPL 2017 auction and his excellent form is surely good news for them. Provided, Cummins plays a game-changing role in the Dharamsala Test, he will surely be in the Delhi squad, led by another fast bowler, Zaheer Khan.
Glenn Maxwell – Kings XI Punjab:
Kings XI Punjab’s key batsman, Maxwell, gave out a message clear and loud that he is also a Test cricketer when he registered a Test ton during the third game in Ranchi. However, Maxwell, who has always had consistency issues failed to deliver in the next two innings. Punjab has been a victim of Maxwell’s inconsistency. Being aware of what he is capable of on a good day in a T20 match, it is a huge risk of leaving him on the bench.
Shaun Marsh – Kings XI Punjab:
Marsh Sr’s scores of 16, 0, 66, 9, 2 and 53 testify that he also has stability problems like his Australian and Punjab teammate Maxwell. He is an excellent player of spin and is well aware of the Indian conditions when compared to the other overseas players in the Punjab squad. Since Marsh is also Punjab’s oldest player in the IPL, they will need him to step during crisis times.