players to watch out for in India vs Australia Test series 
Labuschagne is in the form of his life and scored 957 runs in 11 matches in 2022.

The Border-Gavaskar Trophy between India and Australia will commence on February 9 in India. The upcoming series is crucial for the home team and will impact their qualification chances for the World Test Championship 2021-23. The 2021-23 WTC cycle is nearing its end, with the final scheduled at the Oval, London, in June. Australia are on top of the table with 75.56 PCT, while India sit one spot below them with 58.93 PCT. The Aussies have already qualified for the final. India will make it to the final if they beat or draw the series against the Pat Cummins-led team. Australia have announced the 18-member list for the tour, while India named the squad for just the first two Test matches. This article will focus on the six players to watch out for, who could emerge as the match-winners.

6. Virat Kohli

Former India skipper Virat Kohli is in hot form in the white ball format. The 34-year-old has scored three hundreds in the last five innings but hasn’t managed to end his slump in red-ball cricket. However, one cannot rule out Kohli’s abilities in big-stage events and against Australia. Virat Kohli has scored 8119 Test runs in 104 matches, and the Aussies are his 2nd favourite opponent, as the 34-year-old has amassed 1682 runs against them in just 20 games. Kohli has struck seven hundred against Australia, the most against any other Test nation. 

5. Ravichandran Ashwin

Indian pitches and Ravichandran Ashwin need no introduction. The right-arm off-spinner is India’s 2nd leading wicket-taker in Tests, with 449 wickets in 88 matches. Interestingly, out of the 449 wickets, 312 of them have come on Indian conditions. Similarly to Kohli, Australia is Ashwin’s favourite opponent. The 36-year-old has taken 89 wickets against the baggy greens in 18 matches, the most against any other opponent. T20I cricket dominated 2022, but Ashwin still contributed with the ball and took 20 wickets in six games in red-ball cricket. Also, Ashwin’s all-around abilities are second to none. The right-arm off-spinner is confident as he played a match-winning knock with Shreyas Iyer against Bangladesh in December. Last year, Ashwin averaged 30 with the bat, which was more than KL Rahul.

4. Nathan Lyon

Ashwin’s counterpart, Nathan Lyon, is one of the biggest threats for India, given the conditions he would get in the sub-continent, with the ball turning more than the liking of the batters. Lyon is Australia’s 3rd leading wicket-taker with 460 wickets in 115 matches and was one of the key contributors in Australia’s 2-0 series win over South Africa. In the last five games, Lyon has picked up 22 wickets, and all came on Australian turfs, where there is minimal support for the spinners. Thus, the Indian batters need to be wary of Lyon’s abilities since India is his 2nd favourite opponent. The 35-year-old has taken 94 wickets against India and would be eyeing a special 100-wicket club.

3. Marnus Labuschagne

The world’s number one ranked batter, Marnus Labuschagne’s recent performances speak for himself as to why he poses a threat to Indian bowlers and the team’s chances to qualify for the World Test Championship final. Labuschagne is the 5th leading run scorer in the WTC 21-23 with 1,265 runs in 15 matches. Labuschagne is in the form of his life and scored 957 runs in 11 matches in 2022. Labuschagne won the player of the series in the recently concluded Test series against West Indies and was the top scorer with 502 runs. 

2. Travis Head

Another player who has strengthened Australia’s middle order is Travis Head. The 29-year-old is in scintillating form and has been doing great for the baggy greens in multi-format. Head amassed 655 runs in 10 matches in 2022, including two centuries and three fifty-plus scores. Further, the Indian bowlers have struggled to get rid of the opponent’s middle order recently, and with the kind of form Head is in, he could tire out the hosts and frustrate them by ticking the scoreboard for the Aussies. Head scored a century against West Indies and played a 92 runs innings against South Africa and would look to extend his run-scoring streak by producing another big score against India as well.

1. Cheteshwar Pujara

Pujara is a fine example of how to excel in a particular format. Maestro of red-ball batting, Pujara has proved his worth several times over the last decade. Recently, Pujara ended his century drought by smashing his career’s fastest hundred against Bangladesh and recently became the 2nd Indian player to complete 12,000 domestic runs in India. Thus, Pujara needs no introduction on home soil. Pujara was the leading run scorer in the recently concluded Bangladesh series and scored runs at an average of 74. The 34-year-old has scored 1893 runs against Australia, the most against any country and averages 54.08 against the baggy greens.

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