Virat Kohli holds the key in this Test series. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Virat Kohli holds the key in this Test series. Picture: Phil Hillyard

Warne: Rattle the skipper and India will fall

Where is Australian cricket at right now? What does Australian cricket stand for?

This Test series will show us the character of the team and answer these questions.

At the moment, no team fears Australia; India believes it can win.

Thursday starts the long journey back for Australia to regain its presence in the world game, to reassert itself at the top of the tree, to again become one of the best teams in the world.

How do they do that?

 

STAND UP TO VIRAT KOHLI

Australia has to compete hard against India, the No.1 Test team in the world and especially Virat Kohli, the No.1 batsman in the world.

In years gone by any touring team that came to Australia knew it was the hardest place to tour and knew it had to be at its best to compete. But not now.

Australian teams also used to target the captain. This side has to target Kohli.

Australia must go after him with aggressive body language, and let him know when he walks to the crease that the Australian team, all 11 of them, not just the bowlers, want a big piece of him.

As a bowling tactic, I would go after him with the short ball, and pepper him, again and again. Unsettle him. Then set him up, follow up the short stuff with deliveries that are wide, for him to drive.

He loves to score, and will try to jump in to wide balls, which brings the slips in to play. If Australia nails the captain, the rest will fall. But make no mistake, this Indian team is full of class in every department.

 

The Aussies must go after Virat Kohli with the short ball. Picture: Mark Brake
The Aussies must go after Virat Kohli with the short ball. Picture: Mark Brake

 

 

 

IS SPIN THEIR GREATEST WEAPON?

There hasn't been a spinner in recent memory from a touring team that has done well in Australia.

Go through them; from Murali, Anil Kumble, Graeme Swann, Yasir Shah and Ravi Ashwin last time, they have all been smashed.

Is this the tour in which Ashwin will perform?

Look at his record home and away, there is a huge difference.

He has 336 Test wickets, but 234 have come in India. That's 70 per cent.

In Asia, that number goes up to 277, or 82 per cent.

He only has 59 wickets outside Asia at an average 40. The best spinners in the world perform home and away, not just in their own conditions.

This is a big tour for Ashwin if he gets the nod as I would play the left-arm wrist spin of Yadav or both.

THE HOME TEAM HAS TO SHOW SOME REAL FIGHT

This is a real test of character for the Australian team.

It's probably the first time in living memory Australia goes in to a first Test for the home summer not really knowing its best side in the batting department.

We've got our fingers crossed the batsmen that have been picked will perform. Our two batting guns are Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh.

If you look back over the past 25 years, the batsmen we have always had some of the best in the world.

Right now our highest-ranked batsman in the team is Khawaja who is 10th. Peter Handscomb is next at 42, then Shaun Marsh at 45.

There's a lot of question marks over the Australian batting. That top three or four is so crucial, and they have to set the tone in the first Test.

We've seen so often that first Test will dictate how the series will go. That first session, on day one, is so important.

Whoever wins the toss will bat, because we know the Adelaide conditions are so good for batting. The Australian top order will never get a better chance this series to get some confidence up.

Usman Khawaja led the way with the bat. Picture: Getty Images
Usman Khawaja led the way with the bat. Picture: Getty Images
 

BUT BAT PROPERLY

I hope the batsmen ask this question: what does the team need me to do right now? If that's block the ball for a session to get back in the game, then do it, that's OK.

This new mindset of "this is the way I play, this is the modern player", it ain't working and is a cop out for when it gets tough.

Have a look at the results this year, playing with this idea of playing their way is the only way, of innovation - they have won hardly any games.

Let's go back to basics, stop trying to reinvent the wheel, show some capacity to graft an innings out, to be tough, get through the hard times and when set to take on the bowlers.

 

 

There are high expectations on Shaun Marsh. Picture: Phil Hillyard
There are high expectations on Shaun Marsh. Picture: Phil Hillyard

 

 

FORGET THE PAST TOO - TIME FOR ACTION

There has been so much talk about the bans for Steve Smith and David Warner, should they be lifted, should they be shortened, and there's still an after-effect of what happened in South Africa, in how the team will play.

It's time to put all that aside and play the Australian way.

The 11 that takes the field have the chance to do that. No more Mr Nice Guy.

It's time to be tough, get in the face of the opposition, and show that this current crop of players know what it takes to be successful. Do what the opposition least likes.

At the moment the Australians are so worried about trying to win back respect, and trying to do that in a certain way, they have lost focus on playing an in-your-face style of cricket, targeting the opposition captain, and being aggressive.

That doesn't mean sledging. It's body language, playing with intensity and passion, and if there's an opportunity to unsettle the opposition with the odd word here or there, then do it.

We heard South African captain Faf du Plessis say the Aussies were timid during the recent white ball games, he said they were not like any opposition he'd played against - he was right.

Every opposition team knows that playing in Australia is always hard, it's always tough, it's the ultimate test. It's time for this Australian side to give them that ultimate test."

The Australians didn’t show their usual aggression in the recent one-day series against South Africa, according to Faf du Plessis. Picture: Sarah Reed
The Australians didn’t show their usual aggression in the recent one-day series against South Africa, according to Faf du Plessis. Picture: Sarah Reed
 

THE VERDICT

I think India goes in as favourite, for the first time in my memory.

I think this is India's best chance of winning a series here. But I think the Australian bowling attack will make the home side very, very competitive.

I think the side that wins the opening Test will win the series 2-1.

I think the series will be played in the right spirit, but there will be moments that could tempt both to overstep the mark, and it will test their willingness to play in that spirit.

I think there will be a confrontation, there will be a blow up somewhere.

It's going to be a gripping series, one of the most closely contested series we have had here for a long time.

If the Australians impose themselves early onto India they will win, if not the champagne corks will be flying for the tourists.

 

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News Corp Australia


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