The longer format of the game, without a doubt, has its fare share of loyal followers despite the emergence of T20 cricket. The excitement reaches its peak when teams like India and Australia go head-to-head.
The four-match Test series featuring the number one Test team (India) and second ranked Australia will get underway in Pune on Thursday. The home team, under the leadership of Kohli, have beaten teams like England and New Zealand hands down of late. India have won five Test series in a row at home.
India have not lost a single Test match at home after their defeat to England in December 2012. Can India continue the dominance at home against Australia?
Indubitably, Kohli's team is the favourite going into the test series. India's bowling unit, led by the spin duo– R Ashwin and Jadeja, is more than capable of taking 20 wickets.
Australia, on the other hand, have always took pride in their pace attack. However, the pace department will have little to no effect in Indian pitches where spinners rule the roost. The Australian thinktanks are also wise to the sub-continental conditions and have picked four spinners including Mitchell Swepson, Ashton Agar, Nathan Lyon and Steve O'Keefe for the series.
But these spinners will have a tough time dealing with Kohli's hunger for runs, Cheteshwar Pujara's sound technique and Murali Vijay's lazy elegance. Once they get their eye in, it's next to impossible to stop these batsmen on their tracks.
Among the spinners, only Lyon, with 63 Tests, has enough experience under his belt. Two other spinners, barring Swepson (yet to debut), have only played six matches. With players like Kohli in superb form, the road ahead is tough for the turners.
It's been 'one for all, and all for one' with the Indian batsmen, lately. Collective failings are a thing of past on the Indian batting front and somebody always stand up to the task. Besides, India batsmen grew up playing in slow tracks. It's worth mentioning that even the likes of Shane Warne has a poor track record in India.
Australia will be relying heavily on new ball bowlers Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood. The pace department needs to make full use of the shine to dismiss the openers – Vijay and KL Rahul – and expose the middle order. The pace duo should always look to create pressure, and repeatedly put the ball in the corridor of uncertainty and take advantage of reverse swing, if it's in offing, to trouble the famed Indian batting line up.
If the seamers fail to get early wickets, Australia will find itself in the sea. If Starc can keep Indian batsmen quiet and also take wickets, Hazlewood, who has been in good touch of late with an average of 15.81, can take inspiration from the left arm pacer and vex India.
India have played some quality pacers like James Anderson, Stuart Broad in the recent Test series, but Starc is a completely different bowler, who can trouble India batsmen with his lightning pace. India have been troubled by quality fast bowlers before. But it remains to be seen if Starc will get any purchase in Indian surfaces.
If Starc cannot lead from the front for Australia, Kohli's men can canter to yet another series win at home.