The Indian cricket team departed for Australia on Thursday to play three T20 Internationals, 4 Tests and three ODIs. The T20I series gets underway on November 21 while the Test series starts on December 6. The first ODI will be played on January 12.India have never won a Test series in Australia and this tour could be their best chance to create history. Steve Smith, David Warner and Camron Bancroft were banned following the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa, rendering the Australian batting line-up weak and inexperienced.There is some talk that the ban periods for the three cricketers could be reduced but by most accounts, that seems unlikely. India, meanwhile, will field a full-strength team – skipper Virat Kohli is in prime form while young Prithvi Shaw, albeit in home Tests against West Indies, has shown enough spark to prove he belongs at the international level.Also read – Bowlers are in a great space but batsmen need to step up in Australia: Virat KohliIndia’s bowling attack has been sharp despite Test series defeats in South Africa and England. It is the batting (barring Kohli) that has been the major concern and Kohli has urged his colleagues to learn from the mistakes overseas and pull up their socks in Australia. A few members of the Test squad – Ajinkya Rahane, Murali Vijay, Shaw and Hanuma Vihari – are in New Zealand where they are currently playing a four-day match in preparation fot the challenges they will face in Australia.Also read – Virat Kohli promises to give it back if Australia are aggressiveadvertisementRahane and Vijay were dismissed cheaply but the others including Shaw and Vihari struck half-centuries and spent valuable time in the middle.Meanwhile, India will consider themselves favourites in the T20I series which stars next week. Kohli, who was rested for the three matches against West Indies, will be back to lead his men. MS Dhoni, after a year of low scores, was left out paving the way for Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik to seal the spot of the second wicketkeeper ahead of the World Cup next year. Also read – Time for chopping and changing in ODI team over, declares Ravi ShastriIndia will also focus on the three ODIs in the New Year. Coach Ravi Shastri made it clear that the time for chopping and changing was over and none of the big guns will be rested. It looks like the team has finally found a settled line-up. Ambati Rayudu and Kedar Jadhav have solved a lot of India’s middle order problems and they will be expected to put up some solid performances down under in Australia and New Zealand.Also watch –
Dallas, having twice bitten on the man with the ball before it dumped off for a shot, did not contest Gaven, who had a clear line of sight toward the net. Columbus’ only goals were a penalty shot against DC United two weeks prior and a goal by Andres Mendoza against Real Salt Lake on March 1. The main problem was how to score more with Kevin Hartman, who is the all-time leader in games played in goal, games started in goal, minutes played in goal, wins, losses, saves and shutouts, guarding the net for Dallas. It was Dallas, however, who almost converted an early opportunity when forward Fabian Castillo’s point-blank shot went wide left. Columbus answered with a free kick that forward Emmanuel Ekpo headed over the goal. Dallas went to its reserves in the 79th minute, as defender Zach Loyd and forward Milton Rodriguez were sent in for midfielders Castillo and Marvin Chavez. Columbus scored its first home goal of the season after tying the New York Red Bulls last week at Crew Stadium. Later, in the 29th minute, Dallas forward Ruben Luna got his head on a David Ferreira cross that Columbus goalie William Hesmer quickly saved. Columbus almost put the nail in Dallas’ coffin when Dilly Duka, an 85th-minute substitution for Ekpo, took the ball on the left side, drawing the defense before dumping it off to Duka in the middle, who shot it wide right. Stoppage time would finally bring the insurance goal, as Gaven dribbled the ball right before cutting it inside where his left foot put a screamer into the back of the net. Dallas almost tied in the 81st minute when Loyd passed a high ball to forward Rodriguez, whose header Hesmer read and stopped. Columbus continued to challenge at the 36-minute mark, as a Crew corner kick by Eddie Gaven was flicked by Chad Marshall to midfielder Dejan Rusmir before being cleared by Dallas. The game would only become more difficult for Dallas when midfielder Jackson Goncalves was ejected after acquiring two yellow cards in three minutes. A Columbus substitution five minutes later would put Jeff Cunningham in for Mendoza. For Cunningham, it was a chance to play against his former team. “We had a good control of the match, so it was a great opportunity to introduce me into the game,” Cunningham said. Columbus would put the first point on the board in the 55th minute, when Dallas’ George John committed a penalty in the box, which resulted in a Mendoza penalty shot. Hartman would guess the correct direction only to see the ball slip under his fingertips. The Columbus Crew defeated defending Western Conference champion FC Dallas, 2-0, on Friday. “We tried to put a little bit more pressure on the defenders, especially on the crosses,” Crew coach Robert Warzycha said of his team’s change in game plan after gaining a man advantage. The Crew next takes on Chivas USA on April 9.