The Aussie fan –
India can only play in India – they can’t win anywhere else
The Indian retort –
At least India can play in India, the Aussies can’t even win in Australia anymore…
And so goes the exchange between fans of these two countries on the web and elsewhere. The funny thing is that these two former No.1 ranked teams are nowhere as strong as they were a few months ago, in spite of what the fans think.
The Aussie decline has probably been the greatest, but they were a much better team to start with. With injuries, retirements and lack of form taking over, the Aussies no longer have the air of invincibility they once had – not even at home. Who would have thought that they would lose to a NZ team that doesn’t even contain a Vettori ?
India is a slightly different story, they came up the rankings due to combination of self-belief, improved performance and the decline of other teams. They had the #1 Test ranking, and the ODI World Cup in its trophy cupboard, before the reality check in England.
One thing is certain though – both teams are equally matched, IMO – even if form guide and one on one comparisons says otherwise.
One on one comparisons
Let us go with the team that is likely to play in the Boxing day test:
Australia: Warner, Watson, Khawaja, Ponting, Clarke, Hussey, Haddin, Siddle, Pattinson, Starc, Lyon
India: Sehwag, Gambhir, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman, Kohli, Dhoni, Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav
It is of course too early to call the exact team – particularly the Aussie team makeup is still unclear. Will Watto play just as a batsman, or would they bring in someone like Ed Cowan? If Cowan plays, would it be a good idea to play an all rounder like Christian in and drop Khawaja?
Similarly, for India would Zaheer be fit enough to be an automatic selection? Will Ishant’s ankle recover on time ? Would Rohit Sharma be a better choice than Virat Kohli? Would you play Ojha instead of Ashwin?
But if we go with what we have now, here is my list on who holds the edge:
Who holds the edge?
|Sehwag||Warner||There is a lot of similarity in the way both players bat. I personally think Warner will be a better Test player than a ODI or T20 player; but Sehwag with his experience definitely holds the edge|
|Gambhir||Watson||Watson if he can bowl, but it appears that he is still not fully fit to bowl, so I would rate this matchup as even|
|Dravid||Khawaja||Dravid. His resurgence in form this year has been brilliant, but even if he wasn’t amongst runs, he would still rate higher than new comer Khawaja|
|Tendulkar||Ponting||This would have been an even match a couple of years ago. Not anymore. Tendulkar clearly holds the edge.|
|Laxman||Clarke||This one is a hard matchup, but I would have to give it to Clarke because of the additional things he brings on to the field – his bowling and fielding. But Clarke just edges Laxman out. Just.|
|Kohli||Hussey||Hussey would a be clear favourite against newcomer Kohli, even with the slight dip in form he has had in the last 2 series.|
|Dhoni||Haddin||Their wicket keeping skills are probably even, but I’d rather have Dhoni batting to save or win a game than Haddin any day.|
|Z Khan||Siddle||An uninjured Zaheer would tip Siddle, but given he is coming back from injury, I would say the scales would tip towards Siddle|
|I Sharma||Pattinson||I would call this even. Pattinson is the in form bowler, but Ishant bowled well in West Indies.|
|Yadav||Starc||There is nothing to pick here. Even.|
|Ashwin||Lyon||Again, hard to make a call. Ashwin is probably a better bat than Lyon, but I’d call this even.|
So, my one on one comparisons, put India slightly ahead of Australia.
Form guide, stats and other trivia
Let us first look at the form of the team and some additional stats.
|Played in last 12 months||13 games – 4 wins, 5 losses||10 games – 4 wins, 4 losses|
|Last 5 games||DWWLL
(2 wins, 2 losses, 1 drawn)
(2 wins, 2 losses, 1 drawn)
|ICC rank||2 (Rating – 118)||4 (Rating – 103)|
|Debuts in the last 12 months||Unadkat
|The aging club||Dravid (38)
There is nothing much separating the two teams on wins and losses in the last 12 months – If it weren’t for India’s series against England, their record would have looked a lot better than the 4-5 win-loss ratio this year.
India are also higher on the ICC Ranking (which I don’t think adds any value to the actual team comparisons). An interesting statistic is the fact that India have tried out 7 new players in their 13 games, whereas Australia have tried out 9 in their 10 games. Of this list, there are 3 people still in the Indian team (Kohli, Ashwin and Yadav) and 5 in the Australian team. What this means is that nearly half the Australian team is new to Test cricket!