Australia begin a four match test series in India on Thursday 23rd February.

Australia begin a four match test series in India on Thursday 23rd February. The four tests are at Pune, Ranchi, Bangalore and Dharamsala. Out of the four, only Bangalore has hosted a Test match previously while Dharamsala, Pune and Ranchi are new Test venues. At these new venues, spinner friendly conditions should be to the fore.

The last time Australia visited India for Test series was back in 2013, when India completed a clean sweep in the four match series.In that series, Ashwin was the pick of the bowlers with 29 wickets while Ravindra Jadeja picked up 24 wickets

India will go into the Australia series after series wins against West Indies in the Caribbean and home series win against New Zealand, England and Bangladesh. They are yet to lose a Test match since losing to Sri Lanka in Galle in 2015.

India have picked a squad for the first two Tests only and have retained the squad from the one-off Test against Bangladesh and the likes of Abhinav Mukund, Hardik Pandya and Jayant Yadav are in the squad. India’s spin department will once again be led by R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja and and Jayant Yadav is the other spinner. Left-arm chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav is also in the squad.
After leading the side in Tests for nearly two years, Kohli took over reins from Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the limited-overs format earlier this year. Last week he also surpassed Sir Don Bradman and Rahul Dravid’s feat by scoring double hundreds in four consecutive Test series and is the key man in a strong batting line up.

Most International teams struggle to adapt to the conditions in India and Australia announced a 16-man Test squad for the Tour with uncapped leg-spinner Mitch Swepson earning a maiden international call-up.The 23-year-old Queenslander has been named alongside Ashton Agar and Glenn Maxwell to give Australia five different spin options, with incumbent spinners Nathan Lyon and Stephen O’Keefe also selected.

Tall seamer Jackson Bird, who was replaced by O’Keefe for Australia’s most recent Test at the SCG against Pakistan, has been named as just one of three frontline quick bowlers alongside pace spearheads Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood. The Marsh brothers will be expected to provide third or fourth seamer duties.

Series odds are one sided as you would expect. India 1/6, the Draw 17/2 and Australia 14-1. I expect India to win at least three of the tests, playing at these new relatively unfamiliar venues is a big advantage for the home side and there has been much chatter about a series whitewash.

India 4-0 is currently a 11/4 favourite in the series correct score market followed by India 3-0 at 3-1 and India 3-1 at 9/2. My slight preference is for India 3-0 at 3-1 with Ladbrokes allowing for the possibility that Australia win the toss at a venue, compiling a first innings score from the bat from which they cannot lose.

In this respect Australia will be reliant on their big three, Smith, Warner and Khawaja as two of Australia’s current top five Renshaw and Handscomb have no experience in India

Recommendation: India to win the series 3-0 at 3/1 Ladbrokes