Border Gavaskar Trophy 2023: 5 key player battles to watch out for

Feb 4, 2023

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Pat Cummins and Virat Kohli. (Photo Source: Twitter)

On January 19, 2023, fans celebrated “Gabba Day” remembering the historic test win where India breached the Gabba fortress to claim the Border-Gavaskar trophy of 2021. The win was special because the Indian side was mostly without the mainstream players but even then, they managed to defeat a full-strength Australian side on a ground where the Aussies had ruled for 32 years. 

The four-match Test series between India and Australia, of the Border Gavaskar Trophy 2023, will begin on February 9 at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur. The second Test will take place in Delhi, while Dharmasala and Ahmedabad will host the final two games. The visitors will be keen to earn the trophy back as Team India has won the last three editions of the iconic series. Both teams will be looking to give their best with an aim to make it to the World Test Championship final.

On that note, let us look at 5 key player battles to watch out for:

1. Ravichandran Ashwin vs David Warner 

Ravichandran Ashwin loves to tease the left-handers, one of his favourites being Australian opener David Warner. Ashwin has enjoyed decent success against Warner. He has managed to get the wicket of Warner (also called “Pocket-Sized Dynamite”) not just once or twice, but 10 times in international cricket. But Warner’s strike rate has improved in the past few years, alongside his skill to negotiate with off-spinners.

Hence it will be great to see the battle between one of the best openers, and one of the best off-spinners that the game has ever witnessed. Ashwin has been a major pillar for team India’s success on many occassions. His biggest ability is his thinking and ability to outsmart opposition batters. Also, how can one forget his brilliant partnership with Hanuma Vihari at the SCG.

With Vihari battling a leg injury and Ashwin battling a back-injury, the duo stood strong for 3 long hours to pull off an unimaginable draw. David Warner was always a brilliant player, but ever since the ugly Sandpapergate scandal his game has seen many ups and downs. He managed to make a good comeback and currently is one of the finest openers.

2. Virat Kohli vs Pat Cummins

Pat Cummins has made Virat Kohli look very ordinary in front of him. He has got his wicket quite a few times now. Every cricket fan awaits a contest between Starc and Kohli, but Cummins changes the course of the game. Cummins has dismissed Kohli 9 times in international cricket, and it is usually that one delivery outside of off-stump that bothers Kohli.

Kohli’s strike rate against Cummins in Test is 33.19, and his average is 16.40. The numbers clearly indicate the tussle between the two greats. Since the two are set to face each other again at the upcoming Border Gavaskar Trophy, it will be a battle of the greats. Kohli is regarded as a modern day legend courtesy the great records he has to his names. He went through a lean patch for almost three years, but he has been in top form since the Asia Cup 2022 and has notched up three ODI and one T20I century. 

Pat Cummins, over the years has emerged as an all-rounder for Australia. The perfect bowler (currently World No.1 Test bowler) who can chip in with the bat, and leads the side brilliantly as the skipper. Ever since Cummins took over as Australia’s Test skipper, the Baggy Greens have been a formidable force.

3. Rohit Sharma vs Mitchell Starc

Rohit Sharma going up against Mitchell Starc will be a real contest. It will be a challenge for Rohit faces difficulty against left-arm pacers. Rohit’s pull shot against Starc’s pace will be something fans would be anticipating. However, fans will have to wait for this epic battle because Starc is still recovering from a finger injury is likely to miss the first Test.

Though there has been a dip in Rohit Sharma’s graph in the traditional format of late, but he is undoubtedly one of the finest openers of the game in present times and has dominated the role while representing his side. Rohit’s pull-shots are class apart and a visual treat for all cricket lovers.

Mitchell Starc has been brilliant with his pace. His first ball dismissal of Rory Burns in the 2021 Ashes had put the team in trouble. The Aussies would be dissapointed if he misses out of the first Test, but if he recovers on time to join the team, such lethal starts from him will be a massive cause of worry for the Indian side.

4. Shubman Gill vs Nathan Lyon

This is one battle which started in the previous edition of the Border Gavaskar Trophy Down Under. Shubman Gill had debuted in Melbourne. The right-hander’s most important innings came in Brisbane, where his counterattacking 91(146) laid the foundation for a great victory at the Gabba. Gill had recalled how Lyon was trying his level best to intimidate the youngster to play some rash shots. But he kept his cool till the end.

Gill, given his age, has matured a lot as an all-format player and has adapted to the opener’s slot quickly. Rishabh Pant’s heroics are creditted for the Gabba Test win no doubt, but no one can deny the the brilliant innings Gill had played to set a strong foundation for the middle-order to capitalize on. In this year’s edition, his team would definitely want him to provide those solid opening starts so as to have an early edge over Australia.

Nathan Lyon is one of the most lethal Aussie spinners, having entered the 400 wickets-club during the 2021 Ashes and Dawid Malan being his 400th victim. Gill has faced Lyon in five Test innings, and has scored 37 runs against him. Though the spinner has managed to dismiss the youngster once, Gill has a decent average of 37.00 against him.

5. Cheteshwar Pujara vs Scott Boland

In the previous edition of the Border Gavaskar Trophy in 2021, Cheteshwar Pujara was hailed for his consistent performance throughout the series and most importantly, for his bravery and heroics in the final test at the Gabba. Pujara is known for his composure with the bat, a trait that is usually compared to that of the legendary Rahul Dravid.

At the Gabba Test, the Australian bowlers had been very harsh on the Indian bowlers, and Pujara was one to face their fury, leading to several injuries. But being the Test specialist that he is, he stood firm like a rock and cleared every obstacle with great grit and determination. 

Pujara has played great knocks for the Indian team in the Border Gavaskar Trophy. He has a total of 1893 runs from 37 innings of 20 matches of the Border Gavaskar Trophy that he has played, with an average of 54.08 and also has a strike rate of 42.35. 

Scott Boland didn’t feature in the 2021 edition of the series, thus the Border Gavaskar Trophy will be a new setup for him. Boland and Pujara haven’t faced each other in Tests so far. Hence, it is a clean slate and the contest will be worth witnessing, given Boland’s abilities with the ball and Pujara’s expertise with the bat. 

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