India vs Australia 2017

Against Australia, India face a challenge they haven’t seen this season – a quality bowling attack

Mitchell Starc and Co possess sufficient ammunition to challenge India at home.

Eight losses and two draws. That’s the tally for Australia in Tests in India since their famous Test series victory in 2004. Australia are currently on a seven-game losing skid in the country Steve Waugh monikered “final frontier”.

The team from Down Under has undergone a bit of a facelift in the last three months as some of the players were axed quite ruthlessly after defeat to South Africa at home. While they may not boast the experience and wealth of runs in their line up like many of the previous Aussie sides to visit India, they still hold sufficient ammunition in the bowling department to challenge the hosts, who are on impressive home streak of their own.

New Zealand, England and Bangladesh combined to play nine Tests in India in the 2016-’17 season and only England salvaged a draw – just once. The annihilation of the opposition by India on their home soil has been complete, and their dominance, total.

Even before Australia set foot in India, there has been talk of India steamrollering them through the four Tests, and there is some validity to it; the form of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja coupled with the run production from the Indian batsmen. However, Australia possess something in their arsenal that none of the three earlier visitors had: A top quality bowling attack spearheaded by an out-and-out pacer who also happens to be a left-armer.

Australia’s fast bowling arsenal

Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon and Steven O’Keefe figure to be the main components of the Australian bowling attack that India will have to contend with in the series. There are further pace options in Jackson Bird and all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, as well as spinning choices in young Mitchell Swepson and Ashton Agar.

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While India faced the pace of Trent Boult, James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Taskin Ahmed et al., none of them possessed the lethal combination of pace and swing like Mitchell Starc. The left-arm pacer especially is deadly to opening batsmen; 30% of his 143 Test wickets are of batsmen that opened the innings.

This coupled with the fact India have utilised eight different opening combinations and the preferred KL Rahul-Murali Vijay duo average less than 19 runs per innings together, provides the perfect opportunity for Australia to make early inroads, and force the Indian middle order bulwark to deal with Starc and the new ball.

The other dimension to Starc is that his pace – regularly in the high 140ks – will be something the Indian lower-order batsmen have not had to deal with in the recent nine home Tests. The lower order has routinely bailed out India from trouble by forging valuable partnerships amongst themselves or provided company to top-order batsmen to pile on large totals. If Starc’s pace could limit India’s ability to extend their innings by disposing off the contributions from the bowlers, it increases Australia’s chances and limits the scoreboard pressure that Indian spinners could apply on the Aussie batsmen.

Hazlewood, amongst the top-ranked bowlers in the world, has the metronomic accuracy and nous of his idol, Glenn McGrath. His relentless attack on a length that does not allow batsmen to easily come forward and hang back, and the discipline to maintain specific lines of attack, have seen him collect his 109 Test wickets at an average of under 25, while going at just 2.8 runs an over. He is durable – has missed just one Test through forced rest – since his debut and has the ability to bowl long spells. This will provide the control that Steve Smith will need to keep the Indian batsmen quiet from at least one end, while he could resort to attack from the other.

Spin challenge

Nathan Lyon, the most experienced player in this Australian side, is also the most successful off-spinner in Australian Test history, and trails only Shane Warne and Richie Benaud in career wickets. He has been perennially underrated, and has routinely proved his detractors wrong; since his debut, he has appeared in 63 of the 66 Tests that Australia played. Australia is supposed to he place where finger spinners are not expected to be successful but Lyon has found ways to thrive even there.

With the experience of playing in India in 2013, during which he picked his career-best innings haul at Delhi (7/94), Lyon is far superior to any of the spinners that India have faced this home season. He achieved his second-best figures against India as well – in Adelaide 2014 – and the confidence of having done well against Indian batsmen will hold Lyon in good stead.

The fourth bowling option will be between left-arm spinner Steven O’Keefe (likely) and pacer Jackson Bird (when conditions allow). O’Keefe will be expected to play a role not very dissimilar to that of India’s Jadeja, which is to keep the scoring down by utilising tight lines. Bird is a dependable third seamer, with prior experience and success of opening the bowling for Australia.

If India do however provide playing surfaces that turn form the get go, Australia have Mitchell Swepson, a leg spinner who has shown tremendous promise in his young cricketing career and even received backing from Shane Warne, as well as the left arm spin of Agar.

No Test match is easy. Even as India have rolled over all visitors this season, it hasn’t been entirely easy. However, they will soon find out how much harder it is to win against an opposition that has a well-rounded and experienced bowling attack. If Australian batsmen challenge India as much as their bowlers, we are in for a real treat over the next few weeks.

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From catching Goan dances in Lisbon to sampling langar in Munich

A guide to the surprising Indian connect in Lisbon and Munich.

For several decades, a trip to Europe simply meant a visit to London, Paris and the Alps of Switzerland. Indians today, though, are looking beyond the tried and tested destinations and making an attempt to explore the rest of Europe as well. A more integrated global economy, moreover, has resulted in a more widespread Indian diaspora. Indeed, if you know where to look, you’ll find traces of Indian culture even in some unlikely cities. Lisbon and Munich are good cities to include in your European sojourn as they both offer compelling reasons to visit, thanks to a vibrant cultural life. Here’s a guide to everything Indian at Lisbon and Munich, when you wish to take a break from all the sight-seeing and bar crawling you’re likely to indulge in.

Lisbon

Lisbon is known as one of the most vibrant cities in Western Europe. On its streets, the ancient and the modern co-exist in effortless harmony. This shows in the fact that the patron saint day festivities every June make way for a summer that celebrates the arts with rock, jazz and fado concerts, theatre performances and art exhibitions taking place around the city. Every two years, Lisbon also hosts the largest Rock festival in the world, Rock in Rio Lisboa, that sees a staggering footfall.

The cultural life of the city has seen a revival of sorts under the current Prime Minister, Antonio Costa. Costa is of Indian origin, and like many other Indian-origin citizens prominent in Portugal’s political, business and entertainment scenes, he exemplifies Lisbon’s deep Indian connect. Starting from Vasco Da Gama’s voyage to India, Lisbon’s historic connection to Goa is well-documented. Its traces can be still be seen on the streets of both to this day.

While the Indian population in Lisbon is largely integrated with the local population, a few diaspora groups are trying to keep their cultural roots alive. Casa de Goa, formed in the ‘90s, is an association of people of Goans, Damanese and Diuese origins residing in Lisbon. Ekvat (literally meaning ‘roots’ in Konkani) is their art and culture arm that aims to preserve Goan heritage in Portugal. Through all of its almost 30-year-long existence, Ekvat has been presenting traditional Goan dance and music performances in Portugal and internationally.

Be sure to visit the Champlimaud Centre for the Unknown, hailed a masterpiece of contemporary architecture, which was designed by the critically-acclaimed Goan architect Charles Correa. If you pay attention, you can find ancient Indian influences, like cut-out windows and stand-alone pillars. The National Museum of Ancient Art also has on display a collection of intricately-crafted traditional Goan jewellery. At LOSTIn - Esplanada Bar, half of the people can be found lounging about in kurtas and Indian shawls. There’s also a mural of Bal Krishna and a traditional Rajasthani-style door to complete the desi picture. But it’s not just the cultural landmarks that reflect this connection. The integration of Goans in Lisbon is so deep that most households tend to have Goa-inspired textiles and furniture as a part of their home decor, and most families have adapted Goan curries in their cuisine. In the past two decades, the city has seen a surge in the number of non-Goan Indians as well. North Indian delicacies, for example, are readily available and can be found on Zomato, which has a presence in the city.

If you wish to avoid the crowds of the peak tourist season, you can even consider a visit to Lisbon during winter. To plan your trip, check out your travel options here.

Munich

Munich’s biggest draw remains the Oktoberfest – the world’s largest beer festival for which millions of people from around the world converge in this historic city. Apart from the flowing Oktoberfest beer, it also offers a great way to get acquainted with the Bavarian folk culture and sample their traditional foods such as Sauerkraut (red cabbage) and Weißwurst (a white sausage).

If you plan to make the most of the Oktoberfest, along with the Bavarian hospitality you also have access to the services of the Indian diaspora settled in Munich. Though the Indian community in Munich is smaller than in other major European destinations, it does offer enough of a desi connect to satisfy your needs. The ISKCON temple at Munich observes all major rituals and welcomes everyone to their Sunday feasts. It’s not unusual to find Germans, dressed in saris and dhotis, engrossed in the bhajans. The Art of Living centre offers yoga and meditation programmes and discourses on various spiritual topics. The atmosphere at the Gurdwara Sri Guru Nanak Sabha is similarly said to be peaceful and accommodating of people of all faiths. They even organise guided tours for the benefit of the non-Sikhs who are curious to learn more about the religion. Their langar is not to be missed.

There are more options that’ll help make your stay more comfortable. Some Indian grocery stores in the city stock all kinds of Indian spices and condiments. In some, like Asien Bazar, you can even bargain in Hindi! Once or twice a month, Indian film screenings do take place in the cinema halls, but the best way to catch up on developments in Indian cinema is to rent video cassettes and VCDs. Kohinoor sells a wide range of Bollywood VCDs, whereas Kumaras Asean Trades sells Tamil cassettes. The local population of Munich, and indeed most Germans too, are largely enamoured by Bollywood. Workshops on Bollywood dance are quite popular, as are Bollywood-themed events like DJ nights and dance parties.

The most attractive time to visit is during the Oktoberfest, but if you can brave the weather, Munich during Christmas is also a sight to behold. You can book your tickets here.

Thanks to the efforts of the Indian diaspora abroad, even lesser-known European destinations offer a satisfying desi connect to the proud Indian traveller. Lufthansa, which offers connectivity to Lisbon and Munich, caters to its Indian flyers’ priorities and understands how proud they are of their culture. In all its India-bound flights and flights departing from India, flyers can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options, making the airline More Indian than You Think. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalised by Lufthansa to the extent that they now offer a definitive Indian flying experience.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.