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The trail of blood

Test series' involving India and Australia are one of the few elite, precious contests in international sport which have a rich history and context behind them. Despite their numerous shortcomings, inconsistency and tendency to float from incrediblity to incompetence, somehow the Indians have managed to gather and stitch together their vast and often wasted pools of talent to bring the best and the worst out of the world champions.

The last few editions of the Border-Gavaskar trophy have rode on the higher planes of drama, and the crucial point is that the crux of both teams remain largely the same. Australia's tour of India in 2001 marked what can somewhat loosely be described as the beginning of the newest era in Indian cricket, one where 'Australian' words like willingness to scrap, aggression, brash self confidence, sledging were introduced into Indian cricket's lexicon.

The basic core of players from each side have remained the same through the three set of test matches that started then, and a look at their performances in each of these tournaments should hold some interesting insights into how this series is likely to flow.

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