India made waves in the summer of 2018-19 as they defeated Australia in a Test series for the first time Down Under.
It was a dark time for the Aussies but under Justin Langer, Australian cricket was slowly rebuilt and that climaxed when they retained the Ashes in England.
It was evident that with Steve Smith and David Warner absent from the team due to the ball-tampering scandal, the Aussies were going to suffer. Losing two of the world’s best batsman is catastrophic.
Australia’s strength at the time was their fierce bowling attack, spearheaded by Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood. Complementing them was obviously Nathan Lyon with off-spin.
It was always the bowling having to carry the load for the lack of contributions from the batsmen. The batting line-up was just horrible, Marcus Harris scoring the most runs in the India series with an average of just under 37 runs.
Aaron Finch struggled and while there were some good starts from the top and middle order, they ultimately didn’t capitalise. Usman Khawaja, Travis Head and Shaun Marsh were the next best in terms of total and average runs.
There is no doubt that Tim Paine taking over as captain has showcased his leadership skills and ability to galvanise the squad but his batting left a lot to be desired. His technique generally looks good but he scored the runs and has a Test average of 31.7.
Cummins and Starc kept the ship afloat against India, averaging a tick over 23 runs per innings. But all of this occurred back in the summer of 2018-19.
Fast forward to the summer of 2020-21 and India are touring Australia once again but a lot has changed.
Australia have brought in Joe Burns, Marnus Labuschagne and recalled Matthew Wade, while Travis Head has solidified the middle order. They’ve gone on to defeat Sri Lanka, Pakistan and New Zealand while retaining the Ashes as mentioned.
The Aussies now have a consistent line-up and the supporting cast around Smith and Warner is much more solid. When you pair that with the lethal bowling, Australia becomes a different animal.
Since their historical win two years ago, India have defeated the West Indies, South Africa and Bangladesh but they weren’t able to beat New Zealand.
They have chopped and changed both their batting and bowling a few times but for the upcoming series, expect a heavy dose of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami charging in with the ball.
One area of concern for India could be finding a consistent spin threat that suits the Australian conditions. They may use Ravichandran Ashwin to begin with, however he mainly excels back home. They do have an alternative in Ravindra Jadeja, who can build pressure.
Meanwhile, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rishabh Pant and Mayank Agarwal will be looking to replicate their previous outstanding batting performances in Australia. They have a strong and deep batting line-up led by Virat Kohli.
It’s great to have Test cricket back and it should be an amazing series with both teams having a lot to prove. India is a quality side but they are going to face a completely revamped Australia to the one they played two years ago.