India vs Australia: The bigger announcement came in form of the appointment of Mudhsuden Singh Panesar or as you know him, Monty Panesar as their bowling coach for the tour.
When the Australian side led by Steven Smith will take field against Virat’s Kohli’s men in the first Test of the four-match series at Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune on February 23, they will not only be battling against the odds but will also face an uphill task of correcting history. Their last three trips to Asia have been disastrous and humiliating at the same time.
Australia was destroyed by Sri Lanka (3-0) last year and was embarrassed by Pakistan 2-0 in UAE. However, it all started in 2013 when India defeated the visitors by 4-0 leading to the appointment of current coach Darren Lehmann with a hope to change their record. Having lost 5 Test matches in Asia since then, Lehmann’s prestige is also at stake.
As a result, the Australian selectors announced a spin-heavy 16-man squad for the India tour. However, the bigger announcement came in form of the appointment of Mudhsuden Singh Panesar or as you know him, Monty Panesar as their bowling coach for the tour.
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For any other cricket fan, Panesar is another highly-ranked player who failed to fulfill his potential picking up just 167 wickets from his 50 Tests at an average of 34.71 but for the Indian fans, he is probably the biggest nightmare and one of the few spinners who dominated Indian batsmen at their home.
Who can forget England’s tour of India in 2012! England was in India for a four-match Test series and lost the first match by 9 wickets. In the aftermath, Panesar was brought in to the playing XI and along with Graeme Swann, ran a riot in the Indian batting order. While Swann finished as the leading wicket-taker of the series with 20 scalps, Panesar ended up with 17 wickets in three matches.
Thanks to their impressive performance England won the series 2-1, their first in India since 1984-85. Former England captain Michael Vaughan hailed it as a bigger victory than 2010-11 Ashes tour of Australia. Panesar became a hero overnight. Since then he has been pushed out of the team and at 34-years, chances of him representing England again are very slim.
Apparently, life has gone in a circle for Monty Panesar and he is back in the spotlight and that too at a familiar ground. He’ll be accompanied by former Indian cricketer Sriram Sridharan who is appointed as Australia’s spin consultant.
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Without doubt, Monty Panesar is one of the best candidates to help Australia’s spin woes but things are way different than they were in 2012. Back then, India was going through a transitional face after the retirements of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. But, the current side is in excellent form having remained unbeaten in 2016.
Virat Kohli has matured as a leader, Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara and Murali Vijay have transformed into top Test batsmen while KL Rahul and Karun Nair are the youngsters on rise. The bowling attack also looks strong and for the first time is not over-dependent on spinners.
Aussies need to be aware of Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jayant Yadav and Amit Mishra but cannot afford to take Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav or Bhuvneshwar Kumar easy. All we can say right now is that we might be up for another interesting battle both on and off the field.