By Shane Dell - 27/07/04
Conquering India at home remains Australia’s “final frontier” in their march to be declared the indisputable world test cricket champions and maintain their unshakeable tag of “juggernaut” of the global cricket arena.
The looming four Test series is being billed by Indians and Aussies alike as bigger and more important than an Ashes series between England and Australia, but many Indian fans are likely to be disappointed with the news that Kolkata will not host a match during the upcoming tour and considering Kolkata has been the hoodoo of the Aussie tours during 2001 and 1998, this could be a big blow to the Indian chances of another home series win against Ricky Ponting and his all conquering Australians.
The Aussies, who have taken a series against all opponents at home except India, look to be building up brilliantly after their recent easy series win over Sri Lanka at home and can be expected to be a much tougher nut for the Indians to crack this time around.
Ricky Ponting and his men are absolutely determined to beat India on home soil and add the last notch to their bats of a series win over India on the sub continent, a task that has previously eluded them and remains their “final frontier” in the test cricket world. The Aussie bowling stocks will be at 100% providing no-one suffers injury during the ICC Champions Trophy to be played in England during September and with bowlers like Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz lending support to Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Shane Warne, it is likely the Indian batsmen will face a tough task to nullify what is arguably the finest bowling line-up to grace a cricket field in the last 20 odd years.
The Indians who have prepared their pitches in the last few years in a similar manner to those used in Australia, will probably find the going tough if the Aussie bowlers perform as expected on pitches prepared under conditions the same as they would find at home. Rest assured, no-one knows these type of pitches better than the current crop of Aussie pacemen and it is likely India will fall on their own sword if they attempt to take on Australia on anything but uniquely prepared Indian pitches and the peculiarities these have demonstrated in the past.
Don’t believe me? Just ask Sri Lanka what happens when you prepare pitches for your incumbent goggle eyed bowler, only to have the likes of Shane Warne snatch victory out from under your nose through the spin he extracted from pitches prepared especially for Sri Lanka’s favourite son by their finest pitch “doctors”.
The Sri Lankans committed cricket suicide and India will too if they serve up bouncy fast paced strips of turf to the Australian’s who are known to predict that “blood will flow” on such wickets.
Although India may be full of confidence after their series draw against the Aussies at home in 2003-04, their preference for one day cricket and lack of match conditioning under test conditions will mean the difference between the two sides, come the time to do battle in October. The preference for the income generating one dayers played for television sponsors is a factor Jagmohan Dalmiya and his band of cricket “performers” might come to regret in early November, maybe even a little sooner.
With players such as Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath likely to be on their final tour of India before retirement, you can bet they will have a point to prove in winning this series, something Glenn McGrath often refers to when talking about his cricket career and it’s unmet challenges.
Schedule of Australia v India Test Matches
October 6 - 10: 1st Test at Bangalore
October 14 - 18: 2nd Test at Chennai
October 26 - 30: 3rd Test at Nagpur
November 3 - 7: 4th Test at Mumbai
A warm up match will be played at Hyderabad between the visiting Australian’s and a Presidents XI prior to the 1st Test at Bangalore.