This is easily the most competitive series in Cricket ever since it started in 1996. That is all the more fascinating considering that one is undisputedly the best team and other is unpredictable and plays its best agaisnt the best. In the table below I compare a few of the most important series in cricket.
(Only matches since 1996 are considered)
Clearly, Border Gavaskar Trophy is right up there interms of results percentage and competitiveness i.e. Win/Loss Ratio. Ashes but for 2005 has been extremely one-sided. Last 2 India-Pakistan Series was very boring.
The hype for the Series starting today is not just about the recent rivalry between the Teams. It is also about the Individual players. From India it is the aging Fabulous Five of Sachin, Kumble, Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman. Their cricket playing career very much conincided with my viewing career. And it will be very hard for me to see an Indian Team taking field in a Test Match without any of them. They are the best not just because of their envious career records but also because of their contribution in India's fight against the World Champions.
The table shows a very surprising statistic. One would normally expect a Team to win most of its matches against weaker teams and lose against stronger teams. But with Indian Team it is different. All the members of the Fab 5 have defeated Australia the most, next being the weakest teams like SriLanka and Zimbabwe. Kumble is an exception because he missed the 2001 series.
Coming into this series Indian team looks to have advantage on paper.
- Home advantage. But if we look at the things media is focussing on at the moment, it actually is a disadvantage
- Best players with loads of experience and talent are playing. They are all fit, haven't retired yet, haven't gone fishing either!
- Balanced Batting and Bowling. Sehwag opening and Big 4 in the middle order. Dhoni Keeping. Good variety in bowling with a leg spinner, off spinner, left arm medium and tall right arm fast bowler.
- Only 4 Australians have played a Test in India earlier and none of the bowlers have bowled a ball in India. Ponting's glittering career has a huge dark spot in India especially against Harbhajan
To win series
There are more important factors that decide the winners than the ones mentioned above.
- Having a detailed plan for each of the players and situations. Assigning and assuming the roles according to the plan and executing them.
- Being desperate and focussed only on winning the series. Showing fight and intensity in the field for all the 5 days of the Test.
- Patience, Playing positively, taking the chances (catches) offered, taking singles and not letting slip a winning situation.
- Again focussing on the big picture i.e. the series without getting distracted with Individual miles stones. Ganguly is playing is last series, Sachin is closing on Lara's world record and 12,000 runs, Laxman closing in on 100 Tests, Kumble and possibly Dravid playing his last test at their Home ground Bengaluru.
All matches will have results unless more than 2 days are lost due to rain. A couple of matches will also be very close. I would say Australia will retain the Border Gavaskar Trophy by winning the series 2-1.