Ten days ago, world cricket suffered a major loss in the form of Phillip Hughes. The 25 year-old Australian opener passed away after being hit on the head by a bouncer. Amidst all the tears and the mourning, the Australian team have held themselves strong and are ready to face the touring Indians for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2014-2015. The bilateral test series between Australia and India kicks off on Tuesday with the first test which will be played at the Adelaide Oval. After Hughes’ tragic incident, the schedule for the series has been reworked. Here’s a quick look on how the teams look ahead of the opening test.
Australia – Playing with a 13th Man
The Australian players have shown great courage and sportsmanship as they will come out on the field not only as a team but as a group of friends who have just lost a dear member. They will play for Phil Hughes and will give their heart and soul to the game. Michael Clarke has cleared the fitness test and will be leading the side. The home side boast of a formidable batting line-up, featuring the likes of David Warner, Chris Rogers, Clarke himself and Shane Watson. Steve Smith, Brad Haddin and Mitchell Marsh will add more solidity in the middle order.
The bowling department, led by Mitchell Johnson is in red hot form and has troubled opponents all over the world. Bowling in front of the home crowd will definitely instill some confidence in the bowlers. Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle are the other pacers in the squad. Shane Watson and Mitchell Marsh can also contribute with some medium pace bowling. Nathan Lyon will be the lead spinner who will enter the playing XI. Steve Smith can also roll his arms over for a couple of overs.
The defending world champions in one-day cricket are having a terrific run in the shorter formats but test cricket has been a huge challenge for the Indians. Promising batsman Virat Kohli will captain India for the first time in tests. After an impressive 5-0 series win against Sri Lanka at home in the one day series, Kohli looks confident enough to lead the side in the absence of MS Dhoni who will not play due to a thumb injury.
Indian top-order collapses were a common sight during the England test series. The team has spent more than a fortnight in Australia, which will help them in getting used to the conditions. The openers Murli Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan are not in the best of form but they have the skill and the tact to walk into the middle and power the visitors to a good start. The middle order consists of four special batsmen who have the potential to win a match on their own. Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma will have the responsibility of holding the innings together and not losing their wickets to loose balls.
The Indian bowlers did a decent job in the practice matches as they restricted the CA invitational XI to scores of less than 250. Varun Aaron, Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami and leggie Karn Sharma were amongst the wickets. Frontline bowler Bhuvaneshwar Kumar who had a successful tour of England, is likely to miss the first two tests following an ankle injury.
Plenty of tributes have been planned at the Adelaide Oval before the commencement of the game. The Australian team has announced Hughes’ name as an honorary 13th man spot. It will be an emotional morning as one of the most interesting tours of the year gets underway.