Media mogul Kerry Packer, while promoting his groundbreaking “World Series Day / Night Trial Games” on Channel 9 in the late 1970s, had an unforgettable caption “Big Boys Play At Night”.
Even in 2020, there could not have been a more appropriate capture line for a series where Kohli’s magnificence meets its match. Steve SmithThe maniacal consistency, the stubbornness of Cheteshwar Pujara challenged by a much younger Marnus Labuschagne, ready to show the world that he is not a one-season wonder. All this would be under the lights of the Adelaide Oval.
And then there are those fast and bad men on both sides who aim to instill fear of the pink ball in the twilight zone, creating all sorts of doubts in the minds of the hitters.
Josh Hazlewood vs. Mohammed Shami it’s going to be as tempting as Jasprit Bumrah bowling those yorkies in response Pat Cumminsflurry of bouncers.
With a workhorse like Ishant Sharma absent from the Indian ranks and hitman David Warner absent from the Australian lineup, the teams are on par in terms of strength.
However, there will certainly be a distinct home advantage for Australia along with the experience of playing multiple day / night trials.
A day / night test match has its own little grammar where hitters are expected to attack in the first session while bowlers are at their peak once the sun sets, allowing the pink kookaburra to pick up its pace.
Never has an Indian team been so spoiled for choice with multiple options in place for various positions.
Even 24 hours before the match, you can’t be sure exactly what the perfect match would be for a test match that isn’t exactly conventional in nature.
And the two practice games only raised more dilemmas for India than giving them the definitive answers they were looking for from the matches.
The biggest debate is the opening position. Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal, as a duo, flopped in New Zealand on joining tracks and Shaw’s happy trigger-hitting technique isn’t exactly inspiring the utmost confidence.
At Shubman Gill, India has one for the future, but will Kohli and Ravi Shastri be ready to throw a youngster down the pool or overlook KL Rahul’s poor record in testing and rely on his experience?
Two days before the game, no clear picture emerged even though Gill’s joke earned him the vote of both Allan Border and Sunil Gavaskar, the two names engraved on the glittering trophy the teams are playing for.
Can Rahul be placed at number 6?
But then it would be at the expense of Hanuma Vihari, who has made no mistake in his two years with the Indian team and can also take part-time breaks. Are they ready to take this risk? Nobody knows at this point.
And then the ongoing debate about who is most needed: the keeper-hitter Rishabh Pant or the keeper-hitter Wriddhiman Saha?
Saha’s fifty in the first class match with the red ball was achieved in a harsher environment than Pant’s 73 shot 100 under the lights against a second string attack.
But Pant can be a match-winner while Saha is a match-saver with the bat at best.
Both of their techniques are fragile and Hazlewood, Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon will test them relentlessly.
On Tuesday, India’s top hitters were troubled by Thangarasu Natarajan’s incoming deliveries with pink kookaburra to the Adelaide nets.
If Natarajan, over 130, can bother them so much, then Starc, the world’s best wicket-taker in pink ball tests, can be menacing.
Sometimes, fewer options make it easier to choose and Kohli hopes to make the right choices so Ajinkya Rahane can help India make an encore once she takes a break.
India: Virat Kohli (captain), Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vc), Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravichandra Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav.
Australia: Tim Paine (captain and goalkeeper), Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade .
The match starts at 9:30 am IST.