Perhaps for the first time ever, an Australian cricket tour has invited talk from former cricketers and fans about a possible whitewash by India. Not many could have predicted that the scales could tilt so dramatically, and an Australian team could be seen as so vulnerable. In their last Indian visit in 2013, Australians collapsed to a 0-4 loss but the tour wasn’t preceded by dire predictions. This time, though, from Sourav Ganguly to Harbhajan Singh, the talk has revolved around how Australians would surrender meekly. That even an Australian resurgence is being couched in terms of hope and past-glory says much about their decline and India’s rise.
For Kohli and India, who have remained unbeaten in 19 successive Tests, beating Australia would be a perfect way to end the Test season before the IPL caravan rolls in. India have an additional target to aim for. The International Cricket Council hands out a US$1 million prize with the Test championship mace to the top-ranked Test nation annually on April 1, and all India needs to do is win just one Test from the four-Test series to bag the million-dollar payday.
Everything said and done, Australia remains one of the biggest names in world cricket and a triumph against them remains a cornerstone of achievement. It’s strange how a country steeped in cricketing history and boasting of a well-planned system can look as ordinary as they have done in the recent times when touring the subcontinent. Even their former cricketers have done much hand-wringing about how their batsmen have succumbed tamely to spin. Their spinners too haven’t particularly sparkled. Their pace battery with the admirable Mitch Starc and talented Josh Hazlewood are still their best bet to burst through, but there is no denying that, for now, India hold all the cards.