Gallagher Premiership Highlights - Round 21Mar 27
India vs Australia: Five things we learned from the Test series
India retained the Border-Gavaskar trophy after a 2-1 series victory over Australia. Here are five things we learned.
A compelling series between India and Australia ended in a drab draw in Ahmedabad and a 2-1 victory for the hosts.
Here are our five takeaways from a fascinating series.
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Stage set for World Test Championship final
India won the Border-Gavaskar trophy for the fourth successive time after the 2-1 series victory, but the sides will face off once again in the World Test Championship final in June.
They will meet in the second ever final at The Oval in London, starting on Thursday 7 June, just nine days before the Ashes.
Australia’s place was confirmed after their victory in the third Test in Indore, while India qualified after New Zealand ended Sri Lanka’s hopes with a last-ball win in Christchurch.
The draw in Ahmedabad means Sri Lanka can no longer progress even if they beat New Zealand in the second Test.
Australia reached the final after series wins over England, West Indies, South Africa and Pakistan in this cycle. They drew in Sri Lanka with the only defeat coming in India.
India have series wins against New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Australia and Bangladesh. They drew in England and were beaten in South Africa.
They reached the inaugural final in 2021 but were beaten by New Zealand in Southampton.
King Kohli is back
Virat Kohli ended a Test century drought of 41 consecutive innings stretching back to November 2019 with a majestic 186 in Ahmedabad.
One of the leading batters of his generation had slipped to 20th in the Test rankings but he issued a reminder of his greatness with a scintillating knock that effectively put India in an unbeatable position.
He had averaged 25.70 since his last century against Bangladesh and his overall average had dropped from 54.97 to 48.12.
His barren spell with the bat also coincided with him losing the captaincy and opening up about his mental health struggles.
The 34-year-old hit 15 fours in a 364-ball innings which saw him spend over eight hours at the crease. Runs had been at a premium in a low-scoring series prior to Ahmedabad, although he did make a crucial 44 in Delhi.
“I think in Test cricket I wasn’t able to play with my tempo and template that I have played with for the last 10 years for a while now,” he said. “So that was the one thing I was trying to do. I felt like I was batting really well from the first innings in Nagpur.”
The welcome return to form of Kohli is a significant boost as India now go in search of a maiden World Test Championship crown.
Australia find heir apparent to Nathan Lyon
The good news for Australia is that Todd Murphy looks the real deal. The less good news is that his exposure to Test cricket, at least in the short term, could be reduced with six successive matches in England to come.
The 22-year-old Victorian, who had only played seven first-class matches before his Test debut, was preferred to Mitchell Swepson and Ashton Agar and he rewarded the selectors with seven wickets in Nagpur.
He went on to play every match in the series, picking up 14 wickets at 25.21.
Murphy bowled with control throughout on pitches that largely provided extravagant turn and got the better of Kohli, claiming the wicket of the Indian superstar four times.
His exploits have made him the clear second spin option behind Nathan Lyon, and he is likely to be taken to be taken to England for a huge tour for Australia.
The clearest indication that he will make the Ashes squad is the news that he is set to enjoy a tune-up in county cricket after signing a deal to play for Durham at the start of season.
A remarkable rise is testament to the skill and maturity of Murphy who looks ready to step up when Lyon bows out.
Shubman Gill is the future for India
Shubman Gill replaced the struggling KL Rahul for the last two Tests and made a career-best 128 as India secured a draw at the imposing Narendra Modi Stadium.
The opener struck a maiden Test hundred against Bangladesh in December before embarking on a sensational run in the shorter formats, including a record-breaking 126 against New Zealand in a Twenty20 international.
Still only 23, Gill incredibly averages over 40 in T20s and above 73 in one-day internationals.
He failed to make an immediate impact on a raging turner in Indore, but looked assured in more gentle conditions Ahmedabad and could be set for an extended run in the side.
A masterfully constructed hundred in the last match before the final in June should see Gill retain his place as one of the most exciting batters in world cricket looks to establish himself as a Test opener.
Question marks remain around Ashes selection
In many ways, Travis Head defied the doubters (and selectors) after being overlooked for the first Test but his suitability as an opener in English conditions remains uncertain.
Head was curiously left out in Nagpur after a record-breaking home summer where he averaged over 87 against West Indies and South Africa.
He was parachuted in for the Delhi Test and finished the series at the top of the order after David Warner picked up a concussion and fractured elbow.
Question marks persist around Head’s ability to open the batting against the moving ball, while Warner who was famously dismissed seven times by Stuart Broad in 2019, averages just 26.04 in 25 innings in England.
With one Test to go before the Ashes commences in Birmingham, the debate around who will partner Usman Khawaja at the top of the order is set to gather pace.
The most likely outcome is that Warner will open and Head will return to the middle-order, with the clearest indication set to come in June at the final of the World Test Championship.
Australia will revert to a more conventional bowling unit with three fast bowlers plus Cameron Green and one spinner in Nathan Lyon. Pat Cummins is the only certainty, with Mitchell Starc, Scott Boland, Josh Hazlewood among a host of others in contention.