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India vs Australia: First Test preview, teams and key matchups

Brad Haddin's omission would have been a great chance for Hartley, had he been picked. (AFP PHOTO/Tony ASHBY)
8th December, 2014
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The first Test match between Australia and India will take place at the Adelaide Oval on Tuesday 9 December, having been moved from Brisbane due to the tragic death of Phillip Hughes

The match will begin at 11am AEDT, 10:30am local time in Adelaide, and will be broadcast on Channel Nine and ABC Radio, as well as Fairfax. You will also be able to follow the live scores of the match on The Roar.

It will feature an Australian side still recovering from the loss of teammate Phillip Hughes just under two weeks ago, and an Indian side who were humiliated by the hosts 4-0 the last time they travelled here.

More Cricket:
» LEMON: Hughes in the foreground as Test cricket begins
» Baggy Greens need to play hard but fair for 408
» Captain Clarke the man for the current climate
» Michael Clarke to play in first Test
» MS Dhoni to miss first Test, Virat Kohli Indian captain

Teams
The first thing to look at is who will be lining up for the two countries when they take the field on Tuesday.

Australian team for first Test:
David Warner, Chris Rogers, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke (C), Steve Smith, Mitchell Marsh, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood (12th), Phillip Hughes (13th)*

*Phillip Hughes has been named as 13th man for the Australians as part of a series of tributes following his tragic death.

The changes from the last Test match Australia played are the return of veterans Ryan Harris and Shane Watson in place of Mitchell Starc and Glenn Maxwell.

Both have recovered from injury and have played Sheffield Shield fixtures to prove their fitness to selectors.

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Mitchell Marsh retains his spot in the side as a fast-bowling all-rounder despite the inclusion of Watson.

Indian team for first Test (likely):
Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Naman Ojha/Wriddham Saha, Rohit Sharma, Ravichandran Ashwin, Varun Aaron, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav

Fast bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar and captain MS Dhoni are both out of the first Test. Dhoni is out with a broken thumb for at least one game, while Kumar will also likely miss the second game with an ankle injury; a major blow considering he was their top wicket taker in England over the five-Test series.

It may be a blessing in disguise for the Indians, however, with Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav both quicker bowlers, and Ishant Sharma having played well in Australia two tours ago.

Aaron and Yadav are skiddy quick bowlers, with Yadav reaching speeds around 150km/ph the last time they toured in 2011/12.

The last Test series these two nations played against each other ended in a 4-0 route on Indian soil, with the Indians claiming the honours. The series before was also a 4-0 result, but with the results reversed.

On Australian soil, the Australians come into the series heavily favoured by the bookmakers, at $1.75, with India a lengthy $6.00 for the first match.

But the key match-ups in this contest are worth looking out for.

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Michael Clarke vs Virat Kohli
One has been in the form of his life, while the other has been battling injury and form. Both have recently played in the sub continent, where Kohli continues the thrive and Clarke struggled against Pakistan.

The two stand out players in their respective sides, and both will have the little ‘c’ next to their name for the first contest.

Who scores the most runs in this series will go a long way to determining who comes out on top.

Clarke, in his home conditions, will be looking to step back up to take the mantle as Australia’s best, while Kohli will be looking to build on his last tour Down Under, where he made 300 runs at a tick over 37 in four Tests.

Shikhar Dhawan vs David Warner
These two are similar players, but their fortunes couldn’t be more different right now.

Dhawan is a naturally gifted strokemaker who exploded onto the Test scene last year against Australia with a cavalier century. Warner is not dissimilar, but he has developed his game to the point now where he is one of Australia’s most reliable run-makers. He still slaps attacks all around the park, but has also learned to leave balls that aren’t their to hit, and has firmed up his defences.

Dhawan is in a run drought, which could either spell great news or terrible news for the Aussies. Like Virender Sehwag before him, the run dam is only one innings away from breaking, and if he gets going it’s not going to be fun for the Aussie bowlers.

If he struggles against Australia’s quick bowlers, it could mean a change is necessary at the top of the Indian order.

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Warner, on the other hand, should look to build on his already formidable Test record, and cement himself as one of Australia’s top player.

Mitchell Johnson vs Ishant Sharma
At their best, these two are scarily fast bowlers who can intimidate and dominate batting line-ups.

At his worst, Mitchell Johnson is a scattergun – still capable of taking wickets but also a leaky run boat.

Ishant Sharma, despite his recent turnaround in form, can be ineffective and lacking in pace if he’s not fully fit, as he was the last time he was in this country. Five wickets at an average of over 90 summed up India’s tour.

Johnson is the reigning cricketer of the year, and Sharma captured plenty of wickets at 27 in his recent tour of England.

Both sides will be looking to their tall fast men to lead the way. Which one stands up will go a long way to determining the fate of the series.