The opening game of the 4-match Test series between India and Australia will be taking place at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur and it will be commencing on Thursday, February 9. A total of 4 Test matches will be played as a part of this tour. Delhi, Dharamsala, and Ahmedabad are the other three venues.
The much-awaited Border-Gavaskar Trophy will be commencing in Nagpur with both the teams looking to land the first blow. Australia have been in brilliant form in the Test cycle, with Steve Smith and Pat Cummins standing out. However, they are up against a strong Indian team who have dominated in home conditions in recent times. With the likes of Ravindra Jadeja and KL Rahul returning for India, they will head into this game and series as the clear favorites.
However, the skills of the Australian team can’t be discounted as they have a strong roster themselves, and a cracker of a game beckons in Nagpur. Australia is currently placed at the top of the ICC Men’s Test rankings while India is positioned second on the rankings. These two sides have locked horns with each other in 102 matches in this format so far, where Australia won 43 while India won 30. Another exciting series is anticipated between these two sides here.
There have been a few question marks leading up to finalizing the eleven for India, and one of the biggest concerns is the No. 5 spot left vacant by the injured Shreyas Iyer. The contenders for the spot include the in-form Shubman Gill, who has previously been looked at as just an opener by the national side. The other is Suryakumar Yadav, whose attacking instincts in limited-overs cricket can help the team to replace Rishabh Pant.
The other two spots up for discussion include that of the wicket-keeper, with KS Bharat likely to get the nod ahead of Ishan Kishan as should Axar Patel for the third spinner’s spot.
Probable XI: KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav/Shubman Gill, Ravindra Jadeja, KS Bharat (wk), R Ashwin, Axar Patel, Mohammed Shami, Mohammad Siraj
There are a number of reasons for Australia to try and avoid stacking up too many southpaws in their playing XI. While four in the top seven are a shoo-in, they could avoid adding a fifth to the mix by picking Peter Handscomb over Matt Renshaw.
Probable XI: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Peter Handscomb/Matt Renshaw, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Nathan Lyon
Fantasy XI Suggestion 1:
Alex Carey, Steven Smith (vc), Virat Kohli, Shubman Gill (c), Chateswar Pujara, Marnus Labuschagne, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Travis Head, Axar Patel, Mohammad Siraj
Fantasy XI Suggestion 2:
Alex Carey, Steven Smith (c), Virat Kohli (vc), Shubman Gill, Chateswar Pujara, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Travis Head, Axar Patel, Mohammad Siraj, Nathan Lyon