India's four-Test series against Australia gets underway on Boxing Day in what is one of the most eagerly anticipated match-ups for some time.
The two sides will play the four Test matches at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (December 26th-30th), Sydney Cricket Ground (January 3rd-7th), WACA (January 13th-17th) and Adelaide Oval (January 24th-28th).
Australia have drawn two successive Test series - away to South Africa and at home to New Zealand - and believe they should have won both. In both, they had their chances, and it is clear that they have some teething problems in their batting line-up.
Regular opener Shane Watson is currently unfit and Phil Hughes is struggling for form, while Ricky Ponting hasn’t scored a century in two years and Michael Hussey’s man-of-the-series performances in Sri Lanka are long forgotten.
There are a few injury woes in the bowling department for Australia. Teenage sensation Patrick Cummins will miss most of the games because of fitness issues, while Mitchell Johnson is ruled out of the entire series. Ryan Harris is battling to get fit in time for the first Test and that could leave the inexperienced pair of James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc to partner Peter Siddle as the team’s quick bowlers.
India had an easy 2-0 home win over West Indies but are coming off an embarrassing 0-4 loss in their last away series. Injury problems and poor batting was responsible for their English debacle.
Two of their pace bowlers, Praveen Kumar and Varun Aaron, have already been ruled out of the series after being named in the squad. Abhimanyu Mithun and Vinay Kumar have been called up as replacements.
Virender Sehwag goes to Australia following a sizzling double-century in the last ODI he played. Gautam Gambhir’s poor form is a problem, but Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman form a trusted middle-order. Either Rohit Sharma or Virat Kohli will be slotted into the sixth batting spot.
The last time India toured Australia they lost the series 1-2. Since then, Australia have suffered 2-0 defeats on two occasions in India, with the home team now be gunning for revenge over the next month.