Team India dogged by top-order worries, absence of Pant and Bumrah

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New Delhi, Feb 4

With India completing its white-ball matches against Sri Lanka and New Zealand, its next assignment in the current home season is the highly anticipated four-match Test series against Australia for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, starting from February 9.

We take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the Indian team ahead of a marquee Test series:

Strengths

Experienced bowlers: When one matches the bowling attacks of Australia and India, then the hosts' bowling attack having an upper hand over the visitors' can be felt, especially when it comes to playing at home.

Ravichandran Ashwin has picked up 58 wickets in eight Tests at home since the start of 2020, while Axar Patel has 39 wickets in six matches and Ravindra Jadeja has 15 wickets in only three games he's played due to missing the England series due to an injury. With Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav and Jaydev Unadkat around with their experience of playing in home conditions, this is a sure shot advantageous point for India.

Fortress-like home record: Very few teams in the world have a fortress-like record at home which is as good as India's. Ever since they lost to England 2-1 at home in the 2012/13 season, India haven't lost a Test series at home.

Moreover, in 50 Tests between these two teams in India, 21 of them have been won by the hosts and since 2004, they haven't lost at home to Australia.

Weaknesses

Absence of Pant and Bumrah: India will be entering this series without two of their mainstays for the series against Australia -- Rishabh Pant and Jasprit Bumrah. While Bumrah is unavailable for the first two games of the series, Pant's absence for an indefinite period will be more felt in the Indian think-tank.

Pant's keeping, especially against spinners at home, had significantly improved. His fearlessness with the bat in the middle order had turned the course of Test matches for the Indian team at a crucial juncture. India now have to make a choice between KS Bharat, an understudy to Pant for a long time and Ishan Kishan, who is more in his mould.

Top order worries: In the absence of Pant and Shreyas Iyer (his participation for the first Test is unknown), India's top-order will have to take up the responsibility for the scoring and not be dependent on the middle order for bailing them out of trouble, something which had been the case on most occasions.

Since the start of 2020, India's top four batters have collectively averaged 31.58. Teams who have a worse average than them are South Africa, Bangladesh and West Indies. In this phase, Australia's top four batters have the best average: 48.83, implying that India's top four batters haven't been as productive as they should have been.

--IANS

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