In the final phase of their bumper home season, India are sitting pretty at the top of the Test rankings after six consecutive series victories.

The Indian Test juggernaut, with Virat Kohli at the wheel, has crushed almost everything in its path over the last 18 months and Australia will have to conjure up something special if they are to upset the hosts in their four-match series.

With the opening Test between the world’s top two teams beginning in Pune on Thursday, the odds are stacked heavily in favor of hosts India, who have gone 19 tests without defeat.

Significantly, their last three home series victories, over New Zealand, England and Bangladesh, were underpinned by all-round excellence and came on fair surfaces, not the dust bowls on which India typically thrive.

The series against Australia marks the end of India’s 13-Test home season and Kohli wants his team to maintain the level they have been playing at.

That middle order bat Karun Nair had to be dropped in the one-off Test against Bangladesh despite scoring a triple century in the previous match against England is another indication of the team’s batting might.

Earlier this month, the 28-year-old became the first cricketer to hit a double century in four consecutive Test series and his team posted 600-plus totals in three consecutive tests, another first.

The off-spinner with his bag of tricks will torment Smith and his men, often bowling relentlessly in tandem with spin partner Ravindra Jadeja, with a shoal of fielders hanging around the blade.

Smith is aware of the challenge that awaits Australia, who have lost nine consecutive Test matches in Asia.

Cricket Australia recruited ex-England spinner Monty Panesar and former India left-arm spinning all-rounder Sridharan Sriram to work with their slow bowlers.

The visitors can also take heart from the fact that three of the four matches will be played on new venues — Pune, Ranchi and Dharamsala — which will negate some of India’s home advantage.

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