The stage is set for one of the most-anticipated tournaments of the cricketing calendar. The Indian team is gearing up to host Australia for this year’s Border-Gavaskar trophy. The four-match Test series will get underway on Thursday at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur.
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The Border-Gavaskar trophy has seen epic battles over the years and this year is no different. Some of the key battles to watch out for in the upcoming edition include, Virat Kohli vs Nathan Lyon, Cheteshwar Pujara vs Josh Hazlewood, Rohit Sharma vs Pat Cummins, Ravindra Jadeja vs Steve Smith and Ravichandran Ashwin vs David Warner.
Not only is it one of the most prestigious events of the cricket calendar, but the tournament will play a key role in deciding the finalists of the World Test Championship.
In our build up to this edition’s Border-Gavaskar trophy, let’s take an in-depth look at some of the key battles to watch out for.
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Virat Kohli vs Nathan Lyon
It’s one for the ages. The duo’s battle began back in 2014, when Kohli began his reign as India’s Test captain. The inform Kohli hammered a strokeful 141, before Lyon removed the Indian skipper. Kohli’s knock went in vain as Lyon’s 7/152 saw the hosts clinch a 48-run win. Thus began a rivalry for the ages.
Ever since, the pair’s face-off in the middle has been a must-watch encounter. While the former Indian skipper has gotten runs under his belt against the Australian spinner, Lyon has removed Kohli on seven occasions.
For the upcoming edition of the Border-Gavaskar trophy, the two will be equally pegged against each other. In recent times, the former skipper has struggled against spin, but with his form in white-ball cricket, one can expect fireworks from him. On the other hand, Lyon has found success in the subcontinent and India’s turning tracks will work in his favour. Who will get the upper hand? Let’s wait and watch!
Cheteshwar Pujara vs Josh Hazlewood
Cheteshwar Pujara has been a stalwart in the Indian line-up in Test cricket. And on most occasions, his resilience in the middle has troubled the Australian bowlers. Pujara’s knack for tiring out the Australian bowlers has been a highly talked about point.
While the Australian pacers have been clueless against Pujara, one bowler has been able to hand Australia the breakthrough. During India’s 2018/19 and 2020/21 win over Australia, Pujara faced 1258 balls and 928 balls respectively. His defiance saw India walk away with wins on both occasions.
But Australia’s answer to the Pujara conundrum is Josh Hazlewood. Over the years, Hazlewood has dismissed Pujara on six occasions. The match can go two ways – Pujara stays in the middle for a long time and frustrate the visitors, or Hazlewood keeps the visitors in the game, removing Pujara early.
Battle of the skippers in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy
It’s the face-off between the two skippers. Will Rohit be able to retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy? Will Cummins help Australia take back the trophy? We have a mouth-watering battle on the cards.
While the pair haven’t faced off in Test cricket as much, both have had their share of success as captains of their national sides. Cummins has accounted for the Indian skipper’s wicket on two occasions and he will look to hand his team an early wicket. But the Australian skipper is yet to remove Rohit in India. Will he get his breakthrough? Another wait and watch contest for the fans!
Ravindra Jadeja vs Steve Smith
Ravindra Jadeja is set to make his comeback from injury. After a long injury lay-off, Jadeja, who has been a key figure in the Border-Gavaskar trophy is set to make his comeback for India. One of the key battles to watch out for will be Jadeja vs Steve Smith.
With smashing records against his name, Smith is one of the modern-greats. The Australian batter has an impressive Test batting average of 60.89. Against India in the subcontinent, Smith’s average is 60.0. Meanwhile, his overall average against India is a whopping 72.58. But Jadeja has gotten the better off Smith on several occasions.
In the upcoming edition of the Border-Gavaskar trophy, India will once again bank on Jadeja to remove the dangerous Smith. The Indian all rounder has been clinical in the tournament, and even more so in India. In Test cricket, Jadeja has removed Smith four times. Will he be able to make it five? Furthermore, Jadeja has been a crucial fielder for India, and Smith himself has been at the receiving end of a stellar catch by the all-rounder. It will be a key battle to watch out for.
Ravichandran Ashwin vs David Warner
Both have been stalwarts for their teams over the years. Warner has been a key figure in the Australian line-up, giving the team strong starts at the top. But the opener has failed to fire against India. He has score 19 centuries and 14 half-centuries in Tests, but not a single century has come against India. And the reason behind this is R Ashwin.
Ashwin has been a lethal weapon for India, especially in the Border-Gavaskar trophy. But most importantly, he has been Warner’s nemesis. From eight Test matches against India, Warner’s average is a dismal 24.25. His constant struggle against Ashwin has been the reason for his poor show against India.
The Indian off-spinner has removed Warner on ten occasions, with five dismissals coming in India. In this battle, the scales heavily tilt in Ashwin’s favour.
While these are some of the key battles to watch out for, an India vs Australia contest is always a much-awaited contest. While the players are gearing up for the big tournament, the tickets are selling out like hot cakes. Another classic edition of the Border-Gavaskar trophy will get underway on Thursday (Feb 9).
Border-Gavaskar Trophy Schedule
The tournament will get underway on Feb 9th. While the first Test will be held in Nagpur from Feb 9th-13, the second Test will be held between Feb 17th-21st in New Delhi. The third Test of the tournament will be held at the picturesque stadium in Dharamshala from March 1-5. Finally, the curtains will drop with the fourth Test, set to be held at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, from March 9th-13th.
The matches will get underway at 9:30am IST.