Preview | 2023 India vs. Australia Test series

AUSTRALIA has landed in India ahead of its four-match Test series for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, one of international cricket’s most hotly contested and coveted prizes. The upcoming series pits the top two-ranked Test sides against one another, in what could end up being a preview of June’s World Test Championship final in England. Here’s all you need to know ahead of day one on Thursday.


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1st Test: Nagpur, February 9-13
2nd Test: Delhi, February 17-21
3rd Test: Dharamsala, March 1-5
4th Test: Ahmedabad, March 9-13


1st Session: 3:00pm-5:00pm
Lunch: 5:00pm-5:40pm
2nd Session: 5:40pm-7:40pm
Tea: 7:40pm-8:00pm
3rd Session: 8:00pm-10:00pm


Australia: Pat Cummins (c), Steve Smith (vc), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Lance Morris, Todd Murphy, Matthew Renshaw, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner

India: Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul (vc), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KS Bharat, Ishan Kishan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Jaydev Unadkat, Suryakumar Yadav


Both sides have been hit by injuries to key players in the lead up to Thursday’s opening Test in Nagpur. The tourists will be without frontline quicks Mitchell Starc (finger) and Josh Hazlewood (side strain) in game one, while allrounder Cam Green (finger) faces a race against time to play. If available, Green won’t bowl in Nagpur, but may be selected as a specialist batter. Otherwise, Matt Renshaw and Pete Handscomb await in the wings.

Australia’s heavily rejigged bowling attack may feature a Test debutant. West Australian firebrand Lance Morris is in the squad, and Victorian offie Todd Murphy may get a look in. With spin set to be favourable, Murphy is a chance, though his selection may leave the visitors’ primary spin options looking a little sameish. India’s batting lineup is also set to have only a couple of lefties, which further hinders his case.

That leaves the door open to left-arm orthodox spinner Ashton Agar, or leg-spinner Mitch Swepson. The former was favoured in the final Test against South Africa this summer, while the latter has already cut his teeth in the subcontinent against Pakistan and Sri Lanka. They at least offer greater points of difference to Lyon, and Agar’s batting may come in handy should Green fail to get up. Of course, Scott Boland is front of the cue for a spot in his maiden overseas Test.

India’s embarrassment of riches will be dipped into from a batting sense, with Shreyas Iyer (back) ruled out of the first Test, and Rishabh Pant will miss the entire series. Short form sensation Suryakumar Yadav would be hard to deny for a spot in the middle order, while Shubman Gill form and could prove a handy stopgap outside of his usual opening slot, with KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma poised to front up.

In the bowling stakes, Jasprit Bumrah will not be available for games one and two, leaving Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj as the likely frontline pace options. Ravichandran Ashwin just about picks himself, as does allrounder Ravindra Jadeja, who starred on his Ranji Trophy return. Plenty of work has also gone into the threat of left-arm spinner Axar Patel, so he may feature too.



The top two spots on the World Test Championship ladder are occupied by Australia and India, with the visitors needing only a single draw to qualify for June’s final. Sri Lanka is also in the equation, but a series win of 3-0 or greater to India would dash the third-ranked side’s chances, even if they beat New Zealand 2-0 in their upcoming series. The other possibility is that Australia wins or draws the series 1-1, leaving the door open for both Sri Lanka and South Africa to overtake India. The Proteas take on the West Indies in a two-match series.


Much like in the ongoing 2021-23 Test championship, Australia and India are the top ranked Test sides according to the ICC. India can snatch the number one mantle with a 2-0 or 3-1 series win or greater, providing that extra bit of motivation for the hosts to put their foot down.

The visitors boast three of the top five Test batters – Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith and Travis Head – all of whom will play key parts in the series. Opener Usman Khawaja is also in the top 10, ranked eighth. The unavailable Pant (seventh) is India’s highest ranked batter, with skipper Sharma coming in at 10.

India will also be without its top-ranked bowler in Bumrah (third), but Ashwin (fourth) is primed to shine. Australia, meanwhile, is again set to be spearheaded by the world’s finest Test bowler in Pat Cummins, but will sorely miss Starc and Hazlewood.


How much will each venue favour spin? / Is the emphasis on spin justified?

In short; heavily, and yes. If history is anything to go by, Australia is right to be occupied by the likely significant impact of turning wickets. As is the right of the host nation, India plays to its strengths and should be able to take full toll on spinning tops.

Nagpur is spin heavy, as is Ahmedabad, where 37 of India’s 40 Test wickets have been claimed by tweakers. Being the venue for the first and fourth Tests, the surfaces there will be key to deciding the series.

Dharamsala is poised to be most favourable to seam bowling and thus suitable to Australia’s full strength bowling attack. Second Test host, Delhi, was a happy hunting ground for Nathan Lyon in 2013 but the Aussies have not won there in over 60 years.

Once fit, will Australia favour its usual pace-oriented attack?

With four spinners selected in the squad and at least one Test for two or three of them to cement a spot for the rest of the series, Australia is likely to face some selection headaches. Lyon is a lock, but will Murphy partner him in Nagpur, or are Agar and Swepson up to the task with their variables?

When it comes time to head to Delhi, do Starc and Hazlewood come straight back into the XI, or will Boland hold his spot? The array of options for Australia is seemingly endless, but getting the combination right will just about be the key to deciding the series.

How will Australia’s batters adjust?

With so much emphasis on the bowlers, it’s easy to forget the task Australia’s batters face against a formidable string of Indian options. Smith again looms as the key having performed well in 2017, while Khawaja and Green both fared well in more recent tours of the subcontinent. Head did not, and question marks linger over David Warner, who is set to back up with another IPL tournament.

Labuschagne can be trusted to put in the work required to play his part, while Australia’s reserve options in Renshaw and Handscomb should be champing at the bit to make an impact. Whatever the case may be, Australia cannot rely on a single hero to do the job, and their batting dominance in quicker/differently challenging home conditions should provide a mental note of what’s required from one down to seven.

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