Former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardena has given his prediction for the upcoming India-Australia four-Test series which begins on February 9.
Australia and India, currently ranked No.1 and 2 respectively in both the ICC Men's Test Team Rankings and the ongoing ICC World Test Championship 2023 cycle, will meet in Nagpur for the first Test on February 9.
India needs to win the series 3-1 or better to confirm their spot in the final of the ICC WTC 2023, while Australia already has one foot in the summit clash. The Rohit Sharma-led side is the current holder of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, having won the series held in Australia in 2020-21.
Mahela Jayawardena has backed the Australian side to break the jinx and win their first Tests series in India since 2004.
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"I think it's always going to be a great series. I think Indian conditions and how the Australian batsmen tackle that, they do have a really good bowling unit and how do the Indian batsmen tackle that ... it depends on how each team starts the series and who's got that momentum. But it will be fascinating," Mahela Jayawardena said in the latest edition of the ICC Review.
"It's difficult to predict, but being a Sri Lankan, I'm hoping that Australia can go all the way. Probably a 2-1 win for Australia, but it's going to be a tough one," he added.
Jayawardena also picked Shubman Gill as the player to watch out for as he believes he has what it takes to make a similar impression in red-ball cricket as he has done in white-ball cricket in the past few months.
"He's been very good, he's technically very sound and he's a good player of pace. That'll keep him in good stead against that Australian attack, but it's always going to be tough and it will be a very good series.
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He is in great form at the moment and if he converts that into red-ball cricket and have that tempo, maturity, and understanding of the situations and conditions, he'd be a great asset at the top of the line-up for India. He does give them those good starts at a good tempo to put opposition bowling attacks under pressure," Jayawardena added.
The highly-anticipated Test series between India and Australia is slated to get underway on February 9 in Nagpur. Delhi will host the second Test from February 17 while Dharamshala and Ahmedabad will stage the third and fourth Tests from March 1 and March 9, respectively.