Given the last three occasion Australians were in India, they were comprehensively steam-rolled 2-0, 2-0 and 4-0 in the test series, named Border-Gavaskar Trophy. The Steve Smith side, therefore, has a history pitted against them, for the fact when they have not defeated India on its home soil in the last 11 tests they have played.
Last time Australia defeated India in its backyard in a test series was more than a decade ago in the autumn of 2004. Can they repeat that autumn in the spring of 2017?
More than cycle of elements, that was an altogether different era of Australian cricket. Mathew Hayden and Justin Langer opened the batting, Ricky Ponting, Damien Martyn and Michael Clark cemented the innings and Adam Gilchrist struck the match-turning runs before Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne filled in the bowling duties and effectively won the matches for Australia.
Team India too is a different outfit now. Almost unbeatable at home, holding a 19-match unbeaten run this Virat Kohli side is now a team to beat. A sort of a legendary tale the likes of Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly and Dhoni couldn’t pen in their fabulous careers.
This Stephen Smith side, though, has talent on papers – just like any other Australian team – its hunger for standing up to the stiff challenge has to be seen.
Some of the boys in Oz will surely be facing one of their stiffest challenges. Careers are formed or broken in a series such as this. Ask Greg Blewet, a fantastic upper middle order batsmen, who could never recover his awful 1998 tour to India and was soon relegated to the history. And yes, ask Harbhajan Singh, the rookie who rose to become one of India’s greatest spinners after that memorable 2001 test series.
It is this space between the memoirs, that even fiction speaks self on the cricket field. The game is next to gods here, precisely for this reason.
As Virat Kohli side prepares to extend their winning streak, the Stephen Smith side has a task to prove their mettle when they take field on the first morning of the series in Pune on Thursday.
India comes in this series defeating New Zealand 3-0, beating England 4-0 and bruising Bangladesh in a single-test series. Last time they were defeated at home was against England in the winters of 2012, but that now looks a rather foggy history. There is plenty of sun under your feet when your top batsman averages 80 plus in last 13 tests and the top bowler has grabbed nearly 80 wickets.
Yes, Australians have to find a way past Virat Kohli’s bat and Ravichandran Ashwin’s bowling if they want to be even in a hunt.
Team India, on the other hand, cannot risk being complacent for Australians are known to bounce back and remain seated for long.
Ask South Africa, the mix-up between Allan Donald and Lance Klusener gave Australia a game in Edgbaston semi final of 1999 World Cup and Cricket’s world order a champion whose reign extended past millennium and its second decade.
The Australians have never ever dominated cricket like that since. India looks to get there but not before they beat Stephen Smith’s new-looking side.