The men in blue are set to face Australia on day 1 of the 1st Test match of the four-match series on February 9, Thursday. The game will be played at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, Nagpur. Both countries are currently ranked 1st and 2nd with Australia claiming the top spot in the ongoing ICC World Test Championship 2023 cycle and will want to win the Test series to earn crucial points ahead of the WTC final.
In the much-awaited fight which will begin at 9:30 AM IST, Team India will want to continue their record of being unbeaten in a Test series against Australia at home. On the other hand, the Aussies will seek revenge for the previous two editions (2018-19 and 2020-21), when India thrashed the Kangaroos in their home.
India skipper Rohit, who has missed all the Test matches or series against big teams will want to emulate his predecessor Kohli in leading the team to another World Test Championship final. To seal their berth in the WTC final, India will need a two-match victory margin.
Team India's biggest weapon of execution will be their lethal bowling combination i.e their quartet of spinners, out of which three are supposed to play. It is worth noting that the hosts haven't been up to scratch when they play slow bowlers on rank turners.
While Rishabh Pant who is a key Test player will be missed, who will take his position, will also be something to look at. Looking at KL Rahul's current form there were speculations made about his place in the playing XI. If the vice-captain's place remains non-negotiable then either Suryakumar Yadav or Shubman Gill, two potential match winners, will have to sit out. Rohit will also be in a dilemma to choose between Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav.
Ravichandran Ashwin could be handed the new ball. On a pitch that is bone dry on both sides, reverse swing might come into the picture and the spinners are expected to dominate the game, Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj can make that old ball deviate in the opposite direction.
When it comes to Australia, it seems, Ashton Agar with better lower-order batting abilities will make it to the playing XI along with Lyon as his spin partner ahead of Mitchell Swepson. Scott Boland might share the new ball with their captain.
While the left-handers from the Australian team, David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Travis Head, and Alex Carey are almost certain to play, right-handers Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne will also be in the line-up. In Cameron Green's absence, the choice for an additional batter will be between Matt Renshaw and Peter Handscombe.
What was the result of the previous three editions?
- 2016-17 (Played in India) - India won
- 2018-19 (Played in Australia) - India won
- 2020-21 (Played in Australia) - India won
India: Rohit Sharma (captain), KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Shubman Gill, Ravindra Jadeja, KS Bharat (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Suryakumar Yadav, Umesh Yadav, Jaydev Unadkat, Ishan Kishan (wk).
Australia: Pat Cummins (captain), David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Alex Carey (wk), Matt Renshaw, Peter Handscombe, Nathan Lyon, Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Lance Morris, Mitchell Swepson, Todd Murphy, Josh Hazlewood (unavailable), Cameron Green (unavailable), Mitchell Starc (from 2nd Test).