Oh yes, the home team will start outright favourites in what is being billed as the most-awaited clash of the year. India take on Australia in the 4-Test series, with the opener to be held in Pune. Team India is having a 19-Test unbeaten streak and a six consecutive Test series wins to compliment that. What a record! The Indian batsman look to be in good form after a comprehensive victory against sub continental neighbours Bangladesh. The batsmen made a comeback into the team after a lay-off performed exceedingly well. Vijay, Rahane and Saha all got runs, with Vijay and Saha reaching the three figure mark. You can also watch the match on Star Sports 1, Star Sports 3 (Hindi) and live stream it on Hotstar.

Taking all of this into account, it is fair to say that team India start favourites against a dangerous Australian unit. The Kangaroos got an opportunity to fix the problems in a 3-day warm-up game. They were looking at the match as the right occasion to give their players a feel of the Indian conditions. Australia, who in all likelihood, will be looking at their spinners—Nathan Lyon and Stephen O’Keefe—to get them in the match. The spin duo performed reasonably well in the practice game picking up seven Indian wickets among themselves. This would indeed have boosted their confidence ahead of the Pune Test.


Eyes will also be on Virat Kohli who would be looking to score another double hundred to create a world record. He has hit a purple patch and that is dangerous from the Australian point of view. The spin duo of India—Ashwin and Jadeja—will be Australia’s biggest headache, as they know how to bowl in such conditions at the back of their hand.

Pitch: Traditionally, the Pune wicket has helped the spinners as it keeps slow and low. This time it seems to be nothing different. The spinners must be licking their fingers to get the red cherry.

Teams:

India (probable): 1 KL Rahul, 2 M Vijay, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Virat Kohli (capt), 5 Ajinkya Rahane, 6 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 7 R Ashwin, 8 Ravindra Jadeja, 9 Jayant Yadav, 10 Ishant Sharma, 11 Umesh Yadav.

Australia (probable): 1 David Warner, 2 Matt Renshaw, 3 Steven Smith (capt), 4 Shaun Marsh, 5 Peter Handscomb, 6 Mitchell Marsh, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 Mitchell Starc, 9 Steve O’Keefe, 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Josh Hazlewood.

Captain’s corner:

“You hear comments like Harbhajan who expect us to lose 4-0. That’s not how we feel. We want to compete here against India. It’s going to be a tough series, they’ve got some quality players in their line-up from 1 to 11. So yes, it’s going to be difficult,” says Steve Smith.

“Every match and series for us is challenging, we don’t see any series as high or low. All teams we had played were good quality teams. Australia is no different. We are not treating this series different from any others in the past,” says Virat Kohli.

Match starts: 9:30.