From the epic face-off between Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne to Harbhajan Singh’s web over Ricky Ponting, Tests between India and Australia have witnessed several legendary rivalries.
Here’s a look at some of the ongoing battles which will be reignited during the upcoming Test series that will be key in deciding the ICC World Test Championship finalists, as per ICC.
1- Virat Kohli-Nathan Lyon
Virat Kohli’s dream-like start as India’s Test skipper at Adelaide was ruined by Nathan Lyon’s 7-152, which handed Australia a 48-run win in the opening Test of the series in 2014/15. Among his wickets was Kohli, who fell to a miscued pull after a masterly 141.
Since then, Kohli-Lyon battles have become even more engaging. While Kohli has succeeded in scoring runs against the bowler, Lyon has gotten the better of Kohli on seven occasions.
Adding further flavour to the contest is the fact that Kohli has struggled a bit against spinners of late. Lyon will look to take advantage of the turning tracks in India but Kohli, going great guns in the white-ball game, can never be counted out.
2- Cheteshwar Pujara-Josh Hazlewood
Cheteshwar Pujara’s defiance has tested and tormented Australia’s bowling attack in recent years. Few other bowlers have been more frustrated by Pujara’s stone-walling than Josh Hazlewood.
Hazlewood identified Pujara’s resilience as one of the reasons why Australian pacers could not make regular breakthroughs in the Test series in 2018/19. The batter faced 1258 balls over the series and managed to tire the Australia bowlers with his obdurate batting. He repeated the feat in 2020/21, wherein he faced 928 balls, keeping the Australia bowlers on the field for a long time. India won both series 2-1.
Australia’s premier fast bowler Hazlewood has dismissed Pujara six times in the past and would love to see his back as soon as possible in India. Pujara’s early departure can provide a big boost to Australia’s quest for regaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
3- Ravichandran Ashwin-David Warner
David Warner has been Australia’s mainstay at the top for almost a decade. He has scored more than 5000 runs in Australia at an average of 58.39. This includes 19 centuries and 14 half-centuries.
However, his record visibly changes in India. He averages 24.25 from eight Tests, with no century to his name.
This is mainly due to the presence of Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. He has dismissed Warner on 10 occasions in Tests, with five of these dismissals coming in India. Ashwin appears to have an overall advantage over the left-hander. Warner has scored 388 runs in India for Australia and has made three fifties in eight matches and 16 innings.
An aggressive batter like Warner will probably take the attacking route against the wily off-spin of Ashwin, making this battle a mouthwatering prospect.
4- Rohit Sharma-Pat Cummins
Though the two skippers have not faced each other on many occasions in Tests, the match-up between them will be interesting.
Both Rohit Sharman and Pat Cummins have had great success with their leadership so far. While Cummins has dismissed Rohit twice in Tests, they have never faced each other in India.
India’s captain, who will also open the India batting, will look to provide solid starts at the top while Cummins will try to get rid of Rohit early on to establish Australian dominance.
5- Ravindra Jadeja-Steve Smith
With a Test batting average of 60.89, Steve Smith is one of the modern-day greats. His record is exemplary across nations, and the same holds true against India. He has an overall Test average of 72.58 against India, and also averages 60.0 in India in Test cricket.
At the same time, India all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja has managed to get the better of Smith on a few occasions. He has picked Smith’s wicket four times in Tests. Apart from this, Jadeja’s sharp fielding has also proved deadly for his opponent, as Smith realized after being caught short of the crease during the Sydney 2021 Test between the two nations.
Jadeja will be an even bigger challenge for Australia’s finest batter on pitches suited to his style of bowling.