Test record: M: 31 | Runs: 1,848 | 50: 11 | 100: 5 | Ave: 37.71
The lowdown: Rahul has been more cold than hot in Test cricket in 2018, with a counter-punching 149 in the final Test against England at The Oval the highlight of an otherwise bleak year. When it comes to Australia however, his form is positively scorching; he is on a run of five successive fifties against the men in Baggy Green, having reached that milestone on six occasions during the 2017 series in India. The right-handed opener made his Test debut in the MCG Boxing Day clash four summers ago, and made a hundred in the New Year's Test in Sydney that followed. Against the CA XI last week, he made 3 and 62.
Test record: M: 59 | Runs: 3,933 | 50: 15 | 100: 12 | Ave: 39.33
The lowdown: Vijay returns to Australia with fond memories of the distant past if not the recent. His 2014-15 series on these shores was extremely productive – 482 runs at 60.25 with one century and four fifties – but unfortunately for Vijay those numbers were swamped by Steve Smith and Virat Kohli. Vijay was at the peak of his powers four years ago, but in 2018 it's a been a struggle for the veteran. He's averaging just 21.18 this calendar year and might not be playing had young gun Prithvi Shaw not been ruled out through injury. But perhaps he's form has done a 180, as evident by his brutal century in the SCG tour match.
Test record: M: 64 | Runs: 4,905 | 50: 19 | 100: 15 | Ave: 49.54
The lowdown: Only Steve Smith scored more runs than Pujara's 1,140 Test runs in 2017, with 405 of those coming against the Aussies the last time these two sides contended for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. The consistent right-hander has had a tougher time of things this year however, with tours to South Africa and England reaping one fifty and one century from 15 innings. He kick-started this corresponding tour four years ago with a fine 73 in Adelaide in what was his maiden Test innings in Australia, but that was as good as the series got for him and he was somewhat controversially dropped for the final Test. On day one of the CA XI clash in Sydney last week, he made a measured 54.
Test record: M: 52 | Runs: 3,271 | 50: 15 | 100: 9 | Ave: 41.40
The lowdown: The last Indian captain to beat Australia in a Test match, Rahane enters the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series in a similar situation to Vijay. Like the opener, Rahane had a wonderful tour of Australia four years ago, with 399 runs at 57 and a century at the MCG. But 2018 has been tough for the 30-year-old, who is averaging 29.66 from nine Tests with no centuries. And like Vijay, a solid knock against the CA XI could spell a return to form. Rahane scored 56 from 123 balls and left the field retired out.
Test record: M: 25 | Runs: 1,479 | 50: 9 | 100: 3 | Ave: 39.97
The lowdown: Can Rohit transfer his destructive white-ball record into Test match cricket? That is a question that remains unanswered and one Indian fans and Rohit himself is hoping is a resounding 'yes'. In the 50-over format, Rohit averages 47.78 and owns three double centuries – stats Test batsmen around the world would dream of. But against a red ball the returns haven't been the same. The powerful right-hander is in selection square-off against allrounder Hanuma Vihari, but in his favour is his experience in Australia (three Tests) and 50-over record against the men in green and gold (average of 66.37).
Test record: M: 1 | Runs: 56 | 50: 1 | Ave: 28 | W: 3 | BBI: 3-37
The lowdown: When compared with wunderkind and fellow Test new boy Prithvi Shaw, Vihari is bordering on middle-age, but the right-hander recently forced his way into the Indian middle-order through sheer weight of runs; at first-class level, he averages a quite astonishing 59.48. Vihari made a fine half-century from his maiden Test innings in September at The Oval, batting for more than three hours from No.6. He took three wickets with his off-spin in that debut, and as well as dismissing England captain Joe Root, he became the last man to claim the prized scalp of Alastair Cook in Test cricket. In two lead-up matches on either side of the Tasman across the past fortnight, he has posted scores of 86, 51no, 53, 15no.
Test record: M: 5 | Runs: 346 | 50: 2 | 100: 1 | Ave: 43.25
The lowdown: Pant didn't make his Test debut until August, having made his name in the Indian Premier League with some electrifying batting displays and finishing second on the run-scorers list during the 2018 tournament, with 684 at the staggering strike-rate of 173.60. The dashing left-handed 'keeper-batsman has only had eight trips to the middle but his aggression has been on show in the 114 and pair of 92s he has made in his past three Test innings. Pant averages an impressive 52.25 from 28 first-class matches but a strike-rate of 90.83 is again the most eye-catching stat.
Test record: M: 2 | Runs: 237 | 50: 1 | 100: 1 | Ave: 118.50
The lowdown: It's a real shame Australian fans won't get to see batting prodigy Prithvi Shaw play in at least the first Test and most likely the second. The Under-19 World Cup-winning skipper made a dramatic entrance into Test cricket with a rapid century on debut as an 18-year-old. The right-hander was in sparkling touch against the CA XI but he'll remember the match for all the wrong reasons after he rolled his ankle and suffered ligament damage taking a catch in the deep. India are hoping he'll be right for the second Test, but a Boxing Day return is more likely. Let's hope the exciting talent makes a speedy recovery.
Domain Test Series v India
Dec 6-10: First Test, Adelaide Oval
Dec 14-18: Second Test, Perth Stadium
Dec 26-30: Third Test, MCG
Jan 3-7: Fourth Test, SCG
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c, wk), Josh Hazlewood (vc), Mitch Marsh (vc), Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Chris Tremain
India squad: Virat Kohli (c), Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Prithvi Shaw, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant (wk), Parthiv Patel (wk), Ravi Ashwin, Ravi Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar