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Can this Australia team win in India? 3 arguments for & against

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Last Updated on 1 year by Charbel Coorey

Can this Australia team win in India? 3 arguments for & against | Opinion: A look at Australia’s best opportunities to challenge India

Since Australia’s hard fought 2-1 defeat in 2017, India have come down under and conquered Australia twice. The second, back in 2020/21, is right considered one of India’s greatest ever victories, overcoming a spate of injuries, unavailabilities and 36-all out to achieve what looked to be the impossible.

Fast forward two years later, and Australia are tasked with attempting to achieve the improbable. Not since 2004 have Australia won a Test series in India, and only one team in world cricket – England in 2012 – have won on these shores in that period. Pat Cummins’ side, however, is full of confidence, coming off dominant performances at home while showing good signs away in Pakistan and Sri Lanka in 2022.

Can Australia win the four-match Test series in India?

Of course, this is a whole different challenge. India have lost just two of 42 home Tests since losing 2-1 to Alastair Cook’s team over a decade ago. Written from an (hopeful) Australian fan’s perspective, this article will compare the three reasons why this side will and won’t win the Test series against Rohit Sharma’s team.

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3 reasons why they can’t

1. Lack of adequate preparation

Can this Australia team win in India? 3 arguments for & against | Opinion: A look at Australia's best opportunities to challenge India
Australia’s key players have been playing in the BBL up until late January.

Australia took off for India on January 31, just ten days before the first Test in Nagpur. Also, a number of players, including Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith and David Warner are fresh off BBL action.

As a result, it leaves a race against the clock for Australia to acclimatise to the conditions and get their game ready for the toughest task in world cricket. If Pat Cummins’ team starts poorly and loses the first Test comfortably, it makes that task all the more difficult.

There will be no tour match. Steve Smith said that the team isn’t too worried, given that India produced a green track for the practice outing in 2017. “I think we have made right decision to not play the tour game,” he said. “Last time they served a green top & it was sort of irrelevant, we are better of having our own nets & getting spinners to bowl as much they can.”

This sounds good on paper, but how well Australia, soon after T20 action for a number of key stars, can sharpen their skills against spin in a little over a week remains to be seen.

2. Inexperience and question marks around most of the top 7

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David Warner, who has worryingly said he feels exhausted after a long home season, averages just 24.25 in eight Tests in India. R Ashwin has dismissed him ten times in Tests at an average of just 18.2 runs per wicket, and there is no doubt the class offspinner will test Warner right away.

Usman Khawaja, as much as he has improved against spin, is set to play his first Test in India. So too Marnus Labuschagne and Cameron Green, who both have question marks around their footwork against spin especially early in their innings.

However, the arguably bigger question is around Travis Head. Australia’s number five looked to be fighting a lost battle against spin in Pakistan and Sri Lanka last year, even on the benign surfaces. Can Head transfer his superb home form and attacking strokeplay to conditions that will be the complete opposite in India? Time will tell.

The only established option is the great Steve Smith at number four. The others, while very capable, need to start well to ensure they get into the series as quickly as they can. Against a possible spin trio of Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel, along with some excellent seamers, it is going to be a mighty tough ask.

3. Is too much on Nathan Lyon’s shoulders?

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Ashton Agar and Mitchell Swepson have a combined 19 Test wickets at an average of 48.73. Todd Murphy is yet to play a Test. If Cameron Green is unable to bowl early in the series, there may be a situation where Australia will play two specialist spinners with Lyon partnered with an inexperienced option.

The luxury of Green bowling is Australia could then play three specialist spinners, perhaps utilising the likes of Swepson or Murphy a little more sparingly for impact.

However, whatever the scenario, Australia’s spinners have a massive task ahead of them, especially if India produce the kinds of surfaces we saw for the final three Tests of the 2017 series. There is the question of Nathan Lyon’s impact, given he hasn’t quite displayed the same bite in recent years despite his terrific consistency. Since the start of 2021, Lyon is striking every 74.18 deliveries. His economy rate of 2.57 is terrific, but Australia need potent options at the other end if they are to take 20 wickets regularly against the likes of Pujara, Kohli and co.

3 reasons why they can

1. The Steve Smith factor

In 2017, Steve Smith struck 499 runs in the four Tests at an average of 71.28 with three centuries. Australia’s great batsman has constantly spoke in recent times about how he feels the best he has in years, which provides a great ray of hope for Pat Cummins’ team in this tough assignment.

Smith averages 57 against Ashwin in India. He averages less against Jadeja (37.8), but the left-arm spinner has dismissed Smith just four times in 474 deliveries in the subcontinent. If Smith can lead the way and others have the stomach for the fight, Australia can post enough competitive totals to test the home side.

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2. Australia’s willingness to play an attacking, fearless brand of cricket

One such player who can have a good series is Alex Carey. The keeper-batsman is one of the more exciting players of spin in this Australia lineup, with his willingness to be positive a potentially vital asset down the order.

In the first Test against Sri Lanka at Galle last year, Carey, Green and Australia played an attacking brand of cricket against the home side’s spinners on a sharp turner. They scored at a fast rate, and will surely back themselves to try the same once again. To increase the chances of this, Australia will require the best possible platform they can get from the top order.

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3. India producing sharp turners

Following on from the previous point, if India choose to produce sharp turners, it brings Australia into the game. Such surfaces can make it a shootout, and enables Australia’s spinners to threaten more than they would on a slow turner.

If Australia are greeted with the kind of surfaces England were in 2021, Pat Cummins’ team need to see it as an opportunity rather than a threat.

Pune 2017 is a great example. Steve O’Keefe took match figures of 12/70 to completely destroy India in a 333-run win for Australia. The left-arm spinner combined with Lyon to take all ten wickets in the second dig.

Onto Lyon again. His bowling strike rate since 2021 received a mention, but his performances in 2017 need reminding. He took 19 wickets in four Tests at an average of 25.26, including a magnificent 8/50 in Bengaluru. His accuracy, changes of speed and ability to generate turn and bounce will be vital.


The key for Australia will be to compete hard right from the offset. They were competitive in 2017, and if they can dig in again, anything is possible as India showed down under in 2020/21.

Charbel Coorey
Charbel Cooreyhttps://cricblog.net
Charbel is the owner & founder of cricblog.net, based in Sydney, Australia. He started the website to fulfill his love for the game of cricket. Charbel has also been featured on other publications including OP India, Times of India, and The Roar, among others. For any story tips or questions, you can contact Charbel at charbelcoorey@cricblog.net.

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