Former Australia captain Ian Chappell feels a “heightened sense of chaos” and confusion over scheduling and quarantining in the run-up to India’s upcoming Test series Down Under could favour the visiting team. Uncertainty over scheduling is marking the lead-up to the much-anticipated tour, matches of whose will be played in a controlled environment amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “In fact, uncertainty over the schedule at this late stage of preparations is reminiscent of what visiting teams have to contend with in the lead-up to an Indian tour. In other words, India will be right at home in this chaotic atmosphere,” Chappell wrote in ESPNcricinfo.
The Australian great’s opinion is partly influenced by a remark made by cricket pundit Harsha Bhogle in January 2008, following the Monkeygate drama. “In these weird pandemic times there is a heightened sense of chaos surrounding the upcoming tour. Which brings to mind the words of respected Indian broadcaster Harsha Bhogle: ‘Indians can navigate through chaos and thrive in it, while it unsettles Australians’,” Chappell said.
India are scheduled to play three T20s, three ODIs and four Tests in Australia. The squads for the tour are yet to be announced by the Indian selectors.
Chappell added, “On Harsha’s reading of the two rivals, Australia should be wary of the upcoming series with the probability of sudden last-minute disruption.”
However, unlike in the last tour, the presence of the two stalwarts — David Warner and Steve Smith — and Marnus Labuschagne’s rapid progress will certainly aid the hosts, who missed the seasoned duo in 2018-19 due to their one-year ball-tampering suspension.
“Australia possess a highly skilled pace attack ideally suited to home conditions. And this time round they won’t be missing the valuable services of Steve Smith and David Warner, and the batting has been further bolstered by the meteoric rise of Marnus Labuschagne,” Chappell wrote.
“Even a diluted Australia were no pushovers last time – they won the Perth Test – and on paper at least, they are a far stronger combination this time.” Chappell said India’s hopes will rest on Virat Kohli’s ability to handle the Australian pacers.
“India’s chances for a repeat series victory will depend to a degree on Virat Kohli’s ability to take charge against the Australian pacemen and set an example for the other batsmen.
“On the last tour it was Cheteshwar Pujara who stubbornly resisted the Australians, eventually wearing them down so other Indian batsmen could prosper,” Chappell wrote in the column.
Sydney and Canberra are set to host the white-ball leg of India’s tour after the New South Wales government allowed the visiting team to train during its mandatory quarantine upon arrival. “In light of the surrounding unpredictability it’ll be fascinating to see if the kings of chaos prevail.”