- With the surfeit of T20 cricket dotting the cricketing maps around the world, true fans of the longest format of the game would have felt short-shrift in the absence of quality Test matches. Personally speaking, I have had enough of T20 cricket over the last few years and am definitely looking forward to the four-match Test series between India and Australia set to commence from Nagpur. Trust me, thousands and thousands will echo when I mention that there is no comparison between different formats of the game, and Test cricket stands right at the summit. No two ways about it. The unique contest between the bat and the ball over the five days with intrigue, thrill, tension, changing fortunes, and skills at play cannot be experienced elsewhere.
- For that matter, ask any cricketer worth his salt around the world, and unequivocally you will hear that Test cricket is the ultimate form to not only showcase skills but also establish credentials as a cricketer. The classic battle between the bat and the ball in a Test match environment cannot be replicated in the shortest formats. Period. There are hardly any Test series worthy of being labelled as a marquee event. Yes, England-Australia play for the Ashes series whose history goes centuries back. Likewise, the India-Australia Border-Gavaskar Test series too evoke tremendous anticipation as the two competitive teams battle out to emerge triumphant. We have witnessed some of the most entertaining and praiseworthy series over the years between the two sides
- Thus, the ensuing Tests in India will be keenly watched for what is at stake is a place in the World Test Championships. Indeed, India starts as firm favourites to win the series as the familiar home conditions will be a big advantage. No guesses as the pitch conditions will favour the home spinners as well. It doesn’t denote that the pace bowlers will have any lesser role to essay during the series. Time and again, the visiting pace bowlers have proved their worth on turning tracks by extracting reverse swing and bamboozling some of the most accomplished Indian batsmen. Of course, both teams boast quality batsmen like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, David Warner, Steve Smith, Marnus Labuchagne, and some other promising batters.
- Did someone say the bowlers win the matches? Absolutely. This is where the likes of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Ravichandran Ashwin, and Ravindra Jadeja make the difference between winning and losing sides. Note that Australia possesses equally guileful, tactful, and skilled bowlers quite adept at exploiting spinning tracks. This is where the Indian team must be cautious as the tendency of succumbing to quality spinners has increased over time. Thus, the onus will be on the top-order batsmen to deliver big runs for the bowlers to exploit subsequently. Cannot wait for the first ball to be bowled. May the best team win the series. Cricket fans will not be complaining one bit though.