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The Times of India
The Times of India

Injuries to Rishabh Pant and Jasprit Bumrah make India more vulnerable at home this time: Greg Chappell

NEW DELHI: Former Australia batting great Greg Chappell believes injuries to key players like Rishabh Pant and Jasprit Bumrah has made India "vulnerable" this time and Australia can win the upcoming high-profile four-match Test series.

While Pant is ruled out for most part of the year as he continues to recover from injuries sustained during a horrific car crash, Indian pace spearhead Bumrah does not figure in the Indian squad for the first two Tests due to a back injury.

"Australia can win this series. India are more vulnerable at home than they have been for some time due to injuries to key players like Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja and Jasprit Bumrah. They will rely heavily on Virat Kohli," Chappell wrote in an opinion piece for 'Sydney Morning Herald'.

Ravindra Jadeja, who recovered from a knee injury and made a comeback in the Ranji Trophy last month, is in the Indian squad for the Test series beginning in Nagpur on Thursday.

"Visiting teams are often fooled by a game that seems to be going nowhere but suddenly changes at a frenetic pace. The Indians are used to this, so Australia will need to adapt quickly with mind, bat and ball," said the former India coach.

Finger spinner Ashton Agar, who is Australia's only lef-tarm tweaker in the squad, should be preferred to partner Nathan Lyon on turning tracks, Chappell said.

"Should the pitches favour spin, which is more likely, I expect Ashton Agar to get the nod because finger spin is considered to be more accurate," said the 74-year-old Chappell who scored 7110 runs from 87 Tests with an impressive average of 53.86 between 1970 and 1984.

"Anil Kumble who took 619 wickets in Test cricket, rarely strayed off the straight and narrow. His stock in trade were fast, flat leg breaks which were always threatening the stumps. Batters knew if they missed, they were in trouble. Jadeja's stock in trade is similarly unerring.

"Agar has got to emulate their roles. One bowler leaking runs will be the difference in a tight contest."

1/10:​Border-Gavaskar Trophy: All records

2/10:Most Runs: ​Sachin Tendulkar (India): 3262 runs

<p>Not surprisingly, Sachin Tendulkar still leads the charts here. Sachin was invincible against the mighty Aussies and would regularly smack the likes of Shane Warne, Brett Lee, Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie, and others all over the park. In 34 Tests vs Australia, Sachin scored 3262 runs at an average of 56.24 and struck 9 hundreds which is the most by any player in Border-Gavaskar Trophy.</p>

3/10:Ricky Ponting (Australia): 2555 runs

<p>One of the best captains and batsmen of all time, Ponting is the highest run scorer for Australia in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. 'Punter' was a regular nightmare for the Indian bowlers. His iconic pull shots were the highlights of his gameplay. In 29 Tests vs India, he scored 2555 runs at an average of 54.36 and had 8 hundreds under his belt.<br /></p>

4/10:VVS Laxman (India): 2434 runs

<p>When it comes to perfect stroke playing and elegance, Laxman was tailor-made for that job. He was a regular nemesis of the Aussies. The unforgettable knock at the Eden Gardens in 2001 of 281 in a partnership of 376 with Dravid, which led to India’s historic victory was played against the Aussies. In 29 Tests vs Aus, Laxman struck 2434 runs at an average of 49.67 and had 6 centuries.<br /></p>

5/10:Rahul Dravid (India): 2143 runs

<p>One of India’s most reliable batsmen, Rahul 'The Wall' Dravid was rock solid at the crease and played on for his team. His 180 in the partnership with Laxman in the 2001 Kolkata Test vs Australia was crucial. In 2008 he frustrated the Aussies with his solid defense, taking 40 balls to open his account. In 32 Tests vs Aus, Dravid scored 2143 runs at an average of 39.68 and had 2 hundreds.<br /></p>Getty Images

6/10:Michael Clarke (Australia): 2049 runs

<p>Clarke was a run-machine for the Aussies and was particularly prolific against India. One of his most iconic knocks was played in 2012 at Sydney when he struck a mammoth 329* vs India. He was one of the few Aussies who was adept at playing spin, especially on tough turning Indian tracks. In 22 Tests vs India, Clarke scored 2049 runs at an average of 53.92 and struck 7 hundreds.</p>Getty Images

7/10:Most wickets in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy

8/10:Anil Kumble (India): 111 wickets

<p>Kumble is regarded as one of the best spinners to have played the game. 'Jumbo' leads the charts of most wickets in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Against Australia, Kumble scalped 111 wickets in 20 matches which is the most by a bowler against the Aussies. His best bowling figures are 8/141. He also got 10-fifers.<br /></p>

9/10:Harbhajan Singh (India): 95 wickets

<p>Harbhajan Singh was one of the premier bowlers for Team India. He had a great on-field rivalry against the Aussies. Fans will never forget his hat trick against them in a historic test match at Eden Garden in 2001. He was the first Indian to claim a Test hat-trick. In 18 matches vs Aus, Bhajji took 95 wickets at an ER of 2.94. His best bowling figures were 8/84 and he got 7-fifers.<br /></p>

10/10:Nathan Lyon (Australia): 94 wickets

<p>Nathan Lyon is the highest wicket-taker from Australia against India in the red-ball format. He is just one wicket away from Harbhajan's mark of 95 wickets. Lyon is known for his sharp spin which disturbs the concentration of the batsmen. In 22 Tests vs India, Lyon got 94 wickets at an ER of 3.14. His best bowling figures were 8/50, with 7-fifers.<br /></p>Getty Images
Border-Gavaskar Trophy: All records

Recollecting his conversation with Erapalli Prasanna, he wrote the Indian legend would spin the ball hard, try to hit the batter on the pads often, get him thinking about the spinning ball, and then trap him on the crease with a straight one.

"Line, he (Prasanna) said, was optional, length was mandatory. He explained to me that he would lay the seam a bit flatter than for the traditional off spinner and then impart a higher number of rotations on the ball that would make the ball drift like an off spinner but, once it landed on the leather, it would skid on with the arm giving the impression that it had gone 'the other way'.

"As the leader of the spin attack, Nathan Lyon will need to take pages out of his book and show the way."

Chappell, however, said that Australia will also have issues to iron out.

"David Warner is in patchy form and needs to improve his Test record in India; Usman Khawaja, Alex Carey, Travis Head and Cameron Green will be tested against better quality spin than they encountered in Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

"Marcus Labuschagne will be facing his first big test in the subcontinent; and Steve Smith's recent batting tweaks will be examined more keenly than against the West Indies, South Africa and in the BBL," he wrote.

The series will be like a 'final frontier' for the Pat Cummins-led No. 1 Test side who have been on a roll after the pacer took over from Tim Paine.

Australia have had a fine run recently, winning the Ashes and then the series against Pakistan, West Indies and South Africa. They will be in search of their first series win in India in 19 years.

In their last tour of India in 2017, they began with a big win in the Pune Test but went on to lose the series 1-2. India, on the other hand, have not lost at home for more than a decade and have a record streak of winning 15 series.

"The Australians will have to summon every ounce of their talent and experience during the next month to succeed. India is no longer the mystery it once was. Tours are more regular and the IPL offers valuable exposure.

"Attrition takes a huge toll on touring teams. If India are in the contest on day five, they will win," Chappell said.

The former captain said the key for Australia would be to take wickets at regular intervals.

"Delhi and Dharamshala will be a fortress for India. Nagpur is a red soil pitch on which batting is best on the first three days unless they produce a raging turner. In Ahmedabad there are red as well as black soil pitches and the state of the series will dictate what India order.

"To win, Australia must get wickets with the new ball. As the ball gets softer, they must bowl frugally and then reverse-swing the old ball. Spin is more of a weapon in India than in Australia, but we must always play our four best bowlers plus Cameron Green."

Comparing India-Australia battle to a game of chess, the Australian lagend quoted Austrian chess player Rudolf Spielmann who had said 'Play the opening like a book, the middlegame like a magician and the end game like a machine'.

"I have seen a lot of Tests in India and it is as much a battle of the mind as of physical skills. What works in India, is not guaranteed to work anywhere else. Winning in India takes pluck, planning, patience and persistence," Chappell said.

(With PTI inputs)

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