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India-Australia combined XI: Who makes the cut?

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Roar Rookie
5th February, 2023
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The battle for the 2023 Border-Gavaskar Trophy between India and Australia is about to commence. I thought it would be a fun to do a combined XI between India and Australia. There are plenty of tantalising match-ups, Rohit Sharma or David Warner, Cheteshwar Pujara or Marnus Labuschagne and Jasprit Bumrah or Mitchell Starc, to name a few.

I’m just in two minds about how to select the combined XI: do I base it on current form or how well the players have played against the opposing team in the past? For instance, if I base it on current form Khawaja is in one of the opening spots. However, if I base it on how the players have fared against the opposition in the past then KL Rahul for India and David Warner would have a claim on the opening batting spots.

Rahul was the third top run-scorer with 393 runs in the 2017 Test series when Australia last travelled to India.

It’s easier if I pick a combined XI from both squads that have been selected and I will base it on the current form they’ve shown. It is also assumed that this combined XI would play in India.

Usman Khawaja – Opening batter
vs India: 4 matches, 8 innings, 198 runs

Khawaja is definitely in the combined XI purely based on his current form. He has only played against India once before and that was in the 2017-18 series in Australia where Steve Smith and David Warner were banned. In that series he struggled a bit for form. His best batting display was clearly the important knock of 72 he made in Perth, which allowed Australia to win that Test match.

Rohit Sharma – Opening batter
vs Australia: 7 matches, 14 innings, 408 runs

The omission here is David Warner. Against India Warner has made 1148 runs in 18 matches, but only 388 of those have come in India. Rohit Sharma had a quiet 2022 on the Test format front, only playing two Tests. However, in 2021 he made 906 runs highlighted by a 161 against England in India.


Cheteshwar Pujara – 3
vs Australia: 20 matches, 37 innings, 1893 runs

It’s a very tough call to choose either Cheteshwar Pujara or Marnus Labuschagne. The fact that this combined XI is set to play in India just swings it in Punjara’s favour. You can’t deny what the first drop has done over a long period of time. He’s in good recent form coming off a 90 and 102 not out against Bangladesh.

Cheteshwar Pujara

Cheteshwar Pujara (Photo by Saeed KHAN / AFP via Getty Images)

Virat Kohli – 4
vs Australia: 20 matches, 36 innings, 1682 runs

Virat Kohli comes into the combined XI at No.4. We’ve seen he’s back into some good batting form during the one-day internationals. Although, he’d want to translate that onto the Test arena.

The last time Australia toured India in 2017 he had a torrid time of it. He played the first three Tests, which included five innings of scores of 0, 13, 12, 15 and 6.

The reason that he is batting at 4 and the next batter Steve Smith is at 5 is because the Australian has a better record at 5 than Kohli.

Kohli, batting at 5 in 29 innings, has made 1021 runs at an average of 39.26. Smith at No.5 in 26 innings has made 1258 at 57.18.


Steve Smith – 5
vs India: 14 matches, 28 innings, 1742 runs

Steve Smith is once again in sublime form after some quiet years by his lofty standards. He punished both the West Indies and South Africa during the Australian summer.

India holds no demons for him. In 2013, his first tour there, he made a 92. In 2017 he topped the scoring for the series with 499 runs including three centuries. However, Australia lost the series and Smith will be keen to turn that around more than anything else.

Ravindra Jadeja – All-rounder
vs Australia: 12 matches, 16 innings, 387 runs, 63 wickets

Ravindra Jadeja is recovering from a right knee injury but he is still set to take his spot in India’s starting XI so he’s included in this combined XI. He is the quintessential all-rounder especially for Indian conditions. He is a constant threat with the ball, damaging with the bat and an elite fielder. A big series by Jadeja could go a long way towards India winning the series.

Alex Carey – Wicketkeeper
he has not played against India


I’m doing a combined XI from the players who are currently in the squad. Rishab Pant if healthy would definitely be in. He would be in most world combined XIs. He is still recovering from the car accident; I’ve chosen Alex Carey instead.

Carey has performed well in recent times, especially with the bat in hand. In 2022 he made 536 runs at 48.72 and importantly a quick strike rate of 61.25. Coming into bat at No.7, it’s important to keep the scoreboard ticking over. He brought up his maiden century in the Boxing Day Test against South Africa. He has struggled with wicketkeeping on occasions, he will be tested in the subcontinent.

Ravichandran Ashwin – Spin bowler
vs Australia: 18 matches, 89 wickets, 457 runs

Ravichandran Ashwin is a class spinner in all conditions. He’s had good success against Australia in the past. He’s closing in on 450 Test wickets. A reason why he’s in ahead of Nathan Lyon is he is more than useful with the bat in hand. He averages 27.41, including five centuries and 13 fifties.

Pat Cummins – Captain and fast bowler
vs India: 10 matches, 18 innings, 43 wickets

The new captain faces his toughest series to date. Cummins got a taste of what India was like in the 2017 tour, he’ll be keen to test himself again. The captaincy hasn’t slowed his bowling down; he claimed 36 wickets in 2022. He had some success recently in Pakistan, claiming eight wickets for the match to win the series. India will be different conditions – again Cummins will be up for it.

Can the captain lead Australia to victory in India? (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Jasprit Bumrah – Pace bowler
vs Australia: 7 matches, 14 innings, 32 wickets


Jasprit Bumrah will miss the first two Tests due to ongoing back stress fractures. However, it’s expected he will be added to the squad for the remaining two Test matches. It’s a tough choice to pick between Mitchell Starc or Bumrah. The Indian has a good record against Australia, albeit from a small sample size: in seven matches he’s taken 32 wickets at 21.25.

The thing that swings it in Bumrah’s favour over Starc is their respective records in India. India is not usually helpful for fast bowlers, they’ve both played four matches there. Bumrah has taken 14 wickets and Starc seven. The big difference is the averages: Bumrah with 15.64, Starc with 50.14.

Axar Patel – Spin bowler
Axar Patel has never played against Australia before

His record in India in unbelievable. In six games he has taken 39 wickets at 12.43. India are likely to make spin-friendly pitches, and if they do Patel, Ashwin, Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav if he plays will have lots of success. Patel can also contribute valuable runs at the end of the innings, he made 52 against New Zealand in 2021.

So that’s my combined XI that would go very well against any other country. Both of these countries are pretty evenly matched. Both teams have experienced players as well as some new talent coming through.

A key factor throughout the series will be if Australia’s top to middle batting order can stand up. Particularly, the players who haven’t played in India before Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head. Of course they still have Steve Smith who has a very good record in India.

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India will be hoping that their top order batters can deliver some runs. In the recent Test series against Bangladesh, it was the likes of Rishab Pant and Shreyas Iyer rescuing India. It’s always a good sign if middle order batters are getting runs.

Both teams have very strong bowling attacks it should be an evenly contested series. Although, It’s hard to back against India in India.