Ian Chappell believes that uncertainty and chaos surrounding the Australia tour could favour India but reckons a lot will rest on how skipper Virat Kohli fares against the Australian quicks. Chappell also feels that the Indian pacers will encounter a much tougher task, this time around.
The Indian and Australian players might currently be brothers in arms, playing together in the Indian Premier League, but all that and more will change in under a month when team India are slated to travel Down Under for a full-fledged tour. The two-month long tour will see the two sides clash in all three formats but, unsurprisingly, it is the prospect of seeing the sides clash in whites that has the entire cricketing fraternity excited.
Last time around, Virat Kohli’s Indian team created history by becoming the first Indian side to win a Test series Down Under and thus, being both the holders of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy and the number one placed side in the World Test Championship, the pressure will well and truly be on the visitors to live up to the hype and promise.
Former Australian skipper Ian Chappell is of the opinion that for India to do an encore, skipper Kohli might have to set the tone with the bat. Kohli, in 2018, did not have the greatest of tours, scoring just 282 across 7 innings at an average of 40.
“India's chances for a repeat series victory will depend to a degree on Virat Kohli's ability to take charge against the Australian pacemen and set an example for the other batsmen. On the last tour it was Cheteshwar Pujara who stubbornly resisted the Australians, eventually wearing them down so other Indian batsmen could prosper,” Chappell wrote in his column for ESPN Cricinfo.
“In the intervening period India have blooded a number of fine young batsmen who have showcased their talents in different forms of the game. There will be no shortage of competent players for the Indian selectors to choose from.
“Nevertheless, key to another Indian success will be how quickly the less experienced batsmen adapt to the vastly different conditions in Australia. Producing worthwhile totals, especially in the first innings, is an important part of competing down under.”
Cheteshwar Pujara, in 2018, might have ground the Australian pacers down with his boundless patience, but the architects of the series win were the Indian seamers, who accounted for 48 wickets. Chappell noted that the Indian seamers performed ‘at a level above and beyond’ last time around and will face a much tougher ask come December against a much stronger Aussie batting line-up which includes Smith, Warner and Labuschagne.
“The other half of the equation is producing a bowling attack capable of claiming 20 wickets on what, at times, can be soul-destroying pitches. On the last tour the Indian fast bowlers performed at a level above and beyond in achieving this feat. The challenge this time will be to replicate that performance with a similar attack but against a vastly improved Australian batting line-up.”
Despite the tour slated to commence in under a month, chaos inflicted by the Covid-19 pandemic has meant that there is still no clarity about the dates and venues. Referring to a quote from Harsha Bhogle, Chappell stated that uncertainty might, in fact, favour the visitors as Indians are the kind ‘who will feel right at home in chaotic atmospheres’.
“On Harsha's reading of the two rivals, Australia should be wary of the upcoming series with the probability of sudden last-minute disruption. In fact, uncertainty over the schedule at this late stage of preparations is reminiscent of what visiting teams have to contend with in the lead-up to an Indian tour. In other words, India will be right at home in this chaotic atmosphere.”