Australia vs India: Is favourite’s tag a deception?

Australia vs India: Is favourite’s tag a deception?

Australia's picture sans Smith and Warner has unquestionably driven the cricket pundits all over the world to tag India as the favourites to overwhelm Australia. Are they?

Indian team
Indian team. (Photo Source: Twitter)

After having whitewashed Windies in a T20I series at home, India is all set to embark on a full-fledged Australia tour starting 21st of November at the Gabba in Brisbane with a three-match T20I series which will be followed by four Tests and three ODIs. After maintaining a decent T20I record all through the year, Team India will be going into the three-match T20I series with a lot of confidence up their sleeve.

Meanwhile, the Australian team hasn’t had the best of the times in the recent past. Talking of T20I cricket alone, Australia hasn’t enjoyed a respectable record in 2018. Recently, they were whitewashed by Pakistan in a three-match T20I series in the United Arab Emirates before losing the only T20I to South Africa which also happened to be a rain-curtailed game. Steve Smith and David Warner‘s absence seemed to be the apparent reason.

Moreover, Australia’s picture sans Smith and Warner has unquestionably driven the cricket pundits all over the world to tag India as the favourites to overwhelm Australia. However, the question that draws a debate is – Is favourite’s tag a deception?

Australia w/o Smith and Warner

Pakistan vs Australia
Pakistan vs Australia. (Photo Source: Twitter)

To answer the question, we need to take everything into account that factors the state of being so. Smith and Warner’s absence becomes one of the most significant factors that marks India as the favourites. Another significant reason that signs India with an added advantage is the form of the key players as well as the team.

The Indian team is unquestionably on an upward curve in the recent scheme of cricket. However, Australia in Australia is altogether a different ball game. At home, they continue to be a formidable force, especially in T20Is and Tests. The absence of their past leadership will inevitably put Australia in grey areas more often than not, but the series will surely not be a cakewalk for the Indians.

Their scoreline against Pakistan and South Africa don’t depict the whole story. In an era where most of the teams find it difficult to cope up with the pressure in overseas conditions, Australia almost put Pakistan in splits when they drew the first Test from a losing position. Although they lost the second Test by a considerate margin, the fight showed the potential that the Australian team possesses. Moreover, the ODI series between Australia and South Africa was also a closely fought affair where the Aussies missed the bus by a whisker in the series decider.

Bedi and McGrath disagree

Tim Paine and Usman Khawaja
Tim Paine and Usman Khawaja. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Although many cricket experts have jotted down India as the favourites, there are a few other who doesn’t approve of tagging India as the favourites. The few include the likes of Bishan Singh Bedi and Glenn McGrath.

As compared to other cricketing pundits, the Indian legend Bedi wears a different opinion altogether. He approves that the hosts have been a weaker side in the recent past but maintains that the same was the case when India toured South Africa and England earlier this year. He also counts on Smith and Warner’s absence but argues that a team is not about just players.

“The Indian team is good, we all know that, but the same team went to England and South Africa and those teams were also “weak”. Yes, the bans have happened on two kids (Smith and Warner), but a team is not made of two individuals.”

“In fact, our team is made of one person, everything is about Kohli. The amount of focus there is, you don’t realize how much pressure you are putting on that kid (Kohli), both as a batsman and a captain,” opines the former left-arm spinner.

Alike Bishan Singh Bedi, McGrath also reckons that it will be an exciting series, but Australia will come out on top despite the absence of the duo.

Hence, despite missing the services of Smith and Warner, the Aussies will surely pose an austere challenge to India in the coming few weeks. Moreover, home advantage puts Australia in a better position as compared to India. Thus, ahead of the start of the tour, favourite’s tag seems to be a definite diversion for India from the real challenge that they are going to face amidst the tour.

~ Written by Vaibhav Joshi

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