Ed Hawkins previews a hotly-anticipated clash, which starts in Adelaide tonight, with the hosts searching for comfort in their first Test since the ball-tampering scandal...
"We expect Australia to get out of the blocks quickly against a touring team who have already suffered – they conceded 544 against a Cricket Australia XI"
Australia v India
Thursday 6 December 00.00
TV: live on BT Sport
Batting hosts' biggest concern
Australia have had a miserable time of late, failing to win in nine consecutive series in all formats and suffering a humiliating fallout from the ball-tampering affair. But they are happiest at home in the long form and this is a chance for redemption.
Their record is excellent. In 10 years they have lost only nine Tests (out of 52) on their own patch and they have never lost a home series to India. They consistently dominate Asian teams. Only South Africa (three wins) and England (once) have had the armoury to take a home series from them.
They are strongest with the ball. Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins are a superb pace attack who will expect to ruffle Indian feathers. Nathan Lyon is a reliable spin option. But in a move which exposes their insecurity, all-rounder Mitchell Marsh has been sent back to Shield cricket.
Australia are worried about their batting. And they should be. Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh aside they are vulnerable. The inclusion of the awkward Peter Handscomb at No 5 is a worry. Marcus Harris, the highest Shield scorer in the last two years, slots in for a debut as opener.
Kohli needs support
India are being talked up for this series, much like they were in South Africa and England their previous two tours. They failed to win either. Indeed, they were terribly disappointing in England receiving a beating somewhat.
The reason for that loss was an inability to cope with conditions opposite to their own. They face the same challenge in Australia. Generations of Indians, including the likes of Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar, have been unable to adjust enough to get a series win. They've often received a beating somewhat, too.
Virat Kohli will lead the charge and he is expected to enjoy a run glut regardless. The onus is on KL Rahul, Murali Vijay and Rohit Sharma to come up with the runs to support him. We have no concerns about the durable Chet Pujara.
With the ball Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami form the pace attack. This does not look especially threatening. Ravi Ashwin is the spin option.
Bat first, go big
There have been six day Tests played at Adelaide in the last ten years and three day-night Tests. This match is not under lights so it seems sensible to filter out those that were. Of the six, only two were draws. Three were won by the side batting first. The first-innings scores in those six are: 517-570-550-604-245-451. All bar the last two were by Australia. The hosts amassed 517 against India four years ago and 604 against them six years ago. They won both.
No evidence to say India are value
Australia are [2.2], India [2.68] and the draw is [6.0]. Given India's record in Australia (five wins in 44) and precious little evidence that they can adjust to conditions it is far from unreasonable to expect a little more room in their price.
With runscoring heavy in the first-innings winning the toss would seem to be vital for India. Naturally, their price would dip further and it seems hard to justify an interest.
Instead we expect Australia to get out of the blocks quickly against a touring team who have already suffered - they conceded 544 against a Cricket Australia XI. We are enthralled by that pace attack of theirs and think it pretty much trumps everyone. Expect a four-tick cut, possibly more, if they bat first.
Marsh the man
Shaun Marsh hit an unbeaten 126 at Adelaide last time out with the first Ashes Test in the balance in the first dig. Marsh catches the eye with a quote of 9/2 from Betfair Sportsbook to be top Australia runscorer. Khawaja also has ground form. He smashed 145 the year before against South Africa. He is the 3/1 jolly.
More respect for Rahane
All eyes on Kohli for top India runscorer. There is some analysis here about his credentials for top series India bat. The 5/2 that Sportsbook offer is likely to see business particularly with three centuries coming from his bat at the ground. Pujara is 7/2 and Rahane may deserve a little more respect than 6s.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l
Back Australia at [2.2] (2pts)