Australia won a crucial toss as they started their quest to achieve what looks impossible in today’s cricket: beat India in a Test series in India. there was no hesitation in batting first on a surface that is expected to help spin generously. Australia’s captain Pat Cummins said, “It looks like a pretty even wicket… through the middle.” It was perhaps a reference to the rough patches on a spinner’s good length outside left-hand batters’ off stump.
Perhaps keeping that in mind, Australia offloaded one of their left-hand batters, Travis Head, in favour of Peter Handscomb. They also handed out a cap to offspinner Todd Murphy. In the absence of the injured Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, Scott Boland shared the seam-bowling duties with Cummins.
India were missing their best batter of the last two years, Rishabh Pant, but they still looked formidable, especially their bowling. In R Ashwin, the returning Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel, they had three different but deadly accurate fingerspinners, which suggests India expect help from the surface. These three also added heft to the batting, forming a strong lower middle order along with two debutants: wicketkeeper KS Bharat and maverick Suryakumar Yadav. The latter was chosen ahead of Shubman Gill perhaps because India anticipate high-impact innings in short time to be of more value in the middle order.
Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj formed India’s pace attack.
India 1 Rohit Sharma (capt.), 2 KL Rahul, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 Ravindra Jadeja, 6 Suryakumar Yadav, 7 KS Bharat (wk), 8 R Ashwin, 9 Axar Patel, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Mohammed Siraj
Australia 1 David Warner, 2 Usman Khawaja, 3 Marnus Labuschagne, 4 Steven Smith, 5 Matt Renshaw, 6 Peter Handscomb, 7 Alex Carey (wk), 8 Pat Cummins (capt.), 9 Todd Murphy, 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Scott Boland