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India-Australia rivalry

Nigah Muhammad


The writer is a reporter and journalist.

For cricket fans all over the world, India vs Australia matches often felt like a fight between underdogs and champions. It took India 31 years to record a series win over Australia when Sunil Gavaskar’s men triumphed 2-0 in 1979 at home.

The emergence of Sachin Tendulkar in the 90s added another dimension to the rivalry as the Master Blaster engaged in a memorable rivalry with Shane Warne. Led by Tendulkar, India recorded back-to-back series wins at home in 1996-97 and in 1997-98.

Once among the fiercest in world cricket, the Australia-India rivalry is being called “too friendly” after the one-day international series of the summer. The first two ODIs were indeed light-years away from the intensity of previous India visits.

The current friendliness was highlighted when Aaron Finch was struck in the stomach by a full toss and KL Rahul ran over to rub his belly, which the Australian captain laughed off. As lighthearted as his comments were, the 2020-21 summer is indeed off to a wholesome start with no noticeable flare-ups yet.

However, the Kangaroos won the three-match ODI series by 2-1. Concussion substitute Yuzvendra Chahal plucked three vital wickets and opened a fresh chapter in cricket’s long history of debating topics after being chosen – controversially – to replace Ravindra Jadeja, delivering India a comfortable victory in the opening T20I at Manuka Oval in Canberra.

The Indian cricket team has recently played the IPL and the management has formed the best squad for the T20, which is why they beat the Kangaroos in their first match and are encouraged to win the remaining series. Virat Kohli is leading the strong Indian team in this crucial series. With a couple of half-centuries in the recently concluded ODIs, the skipper has been in top-notch form.

With Shikhar Dhawan and K.L Rahul also in their ranks, team India boasts of a formidable top three. The two have been the top performers in the IPL with Rahul leading the charts by scoring 670 runs in 14 league games while Dhawan taking the second spot with 618 runs in 17 games.

Meanwhile, there are questions circulating regarding the captaincy of Virat Kohli. Some analysts have suggested that the T20 captaincy should be handed over to Rohit Sharma, but if you look at the statistics, the victory rate under Virat’s captaincy has kept the team unbeaten in the last several matches.

However, Rohit Sharma is eligible to join the T20 team, but it is not appropriate to give him the captaincy of the national team on the basis of IPL. Talking about the Australian squad, the T20 squad of Kangaroos is as strong as the ODI one. The legendary Smith is at its peak and Aaron Finch is leading the side from the front.

Something was not quite right about Australia’s Mitchell Starc in the first two ODIs, and he was missing from the third with what was described as a minor side or rib complaint. On the other hand, Moises Henriques is supporting his side with both bat and bowl.

Australia has won the ODI series and is still in the T20I series. On another, India has emerged from the funk of the first two games of their tour in Sydney, and has now twice beaten the hosts in two games in different formats to give their visit a sense of momentum.