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India v China Test cricket series: Five key issues confronting China in India

Is ‘s tour of India mission impossible? Here are five key issues facing Steve Smith’s men.


Usman Khawaja and Nathan Lyon are two of ‘s most senior players but both are no certainty to see out the series. In Khawaja’s case he may not even start it.

The subcontinent has not been a happy hunting ground for either player. Despite it being a haven for slow bowlers, Indian conditions do not suit Lyon’s brand of off-spin which relies on bounce to deceive batsmen.

Lyon is aware of the importance of side spin in India and has said he will adopt a flatter trajectory though he still has faith in his stock ball. He has also studied closely the methods adopted by India’s spin ace Ashwin.

Lyon will need his defence in order as well, as India’s rampant batsmen will not hesitate in attacking him to put him off his game.

There is a lot at play for ‘s most prolific finger-spinner. Another poor campaign in India and not only will his cards be marked for future missions on the subcontinent, it would imperil his status as ‘s No.1 spinner.

It’s not quite career on the line for Khawaja but the early signs are not great for his prospects this series. Despite establishing himself as ‘s long-term No.3, he faces a fight to make the XI for the first Test after being left out of the side for the tour game.

Khawaja, who had such a bad run in Sri Lanka he was dropped for the third Test, is under pressure from Shaun Marsh, who has a superior record on the subcontinent. Marsh then scored 104 before retiring in the tour game on Friday.


n sides have perished in India not because their bowlers have faltered but because their batsmen have not done the job.

The n brains trust have already identified the need to score big as being a key to having success and when they mean big they don’t mean 400, which England showed was nowhere near enough.

The pressure will be on Smith and David Warner to score heavily, as Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen did when England saluted in 2012, but they can’t do it themselves.

Peter Handscomb arrived in Test cricket with a reputation for being a good player of spin but he is yet to meet tweakers of the class of Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. So high are the expectations on him, there are good judges who are confident he will succeed this tour.

Getting runs lower down the order will also be important. When South Africa triumphed in 2000, they had the luxury of batting Mark Boucher at No.8.

So far the noise has been encouraging. References to “playing my natural game” have been scarce, replaced by talk of batsmen needing to trust their defence, which was a cornerstone of South Africa’s success in 2000.

“That was a simple goal of ours – to make sure they’re really comfortable with their defence against spin,” said former Proteas coach Graham Ford, who is now at the helm with Sri Lanka.

“The feeling was the longer they could stay at the crease, the better they would handle the spinners and score freely.”


The Indian captain is in such imperious form that anything less than a century would be considered a minor victory.

Since his red hot run started against New Zealand, he has creamed four centuries – three of them doubles – and failed to pass 50 in only two of his last seven Tests. In one of them, India were under extreme pressure to save the Test and may well have lost if not for Cook’s conservatism.

So how do you get him out? “A lot of the teams are going there restricting him, playing with his patience,” says Bangladesh coach Chandika Hathurusinghe, whose team played India just days ago.

“He’s gone to another level, he doesn’t get into those traps. Whoever plays him needs to get under his skin, make sure he comes at you. If you think he will give his wicket away it won’t happen. You have to find a way to get him out.”

Mitchell Starc will be ‘s plan A against Kohli, who, if he does have a weakness, is against high-class pace bowling. Kiwi left-armers Trent Boult and Neil Wagner claimed Kohli’s wicket cheaply three times when they met last year, using their extra bounce with good effect.

, however, are unlikely to be given a surface which will allow this strategy to work.


The feisty Tasmanian-born wicketkeeper has been a much better technician with the gloves in his second coming behind the stumps but this is arguably the biggest test of his career.

Taking 20 wickets will be hard enough for ‘s bowlers, they can ill afford to have Wade spilling more chances.

“When you’ve got the best bowling attack in the world by a long way – [Shane] Warne, [Glenn] McGrath, [Jason] Gillespie, Brett Lee – you can waste a few and get away with it,” former Test wicketkeeper Ian Healy says.

“But when you’re going to India, when you’re the underdogs and you need everything to go right for you, catches have to be held. The wicketkeeper’s a massive part of that.”

Then there’s the issue of Wade’s form in front of the stumps. Wade has struggled with the bat since his recall with just 50 runs from four Test innings, though his unbeaten one-day international century against Pakistan will have given him confidence.

will need him to make decent scores low down the order and shepherd the tail against the spin duo of Ashwin and Jadeja.

Wade’s last tour, like his team’s, was a disaster and cost him his place in the XI. A repeat and there may be no return.


Burnt by their experience four years ago, ‘s attitude towards this trip is to expect the worst with the pitches. However, the recent strips unveiled in India are cause for optimism.

England were not given dust bowls, while Bangladesh were given a decent batting surface which turned late. “We got a decent Test wicket,” Hathurusinghe says.

But there’s a catch. When England won in 2012, spin twins Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar played key roles with the ball, while Bangladesh would have preferred a pitch with less bounce.

The recent crackdown by the International Cricket Council on the standard of pitches should also give hope but Ashwin and Jadeja shape as powerful adversaries on any Indian pitch.

“Ashwin is probably the cleverest bowler going around,” Hathurusinghe says. “He thinks as a batsman. He always keeps the batters guessing and never allows you to get into a rhythm.

“He has so many ideas and variations – and he can execute.”

Jadeja is the perfect foil for Ashwin. “He’s so accurate, creates pressure and doesn’t leak runs.

“Once there’s rough for the left-handers, he’s a nightmare. He gets more left-handers out than Ashwin in the second innings.”

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