With an Australian cricket team in upheaval, India might have their best chance in decades to end an unwelcome streak Down Under - they have never won a Test series since touring here 64 years ago.
And regardless of the outcome, both captains said yesterday that they will try to keep the series free from controversy that marred India's last visit.
When the four-Test series begins tomorrow (3.30am UAE time) at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Sachin Tendulkar might have an opportunity to give India a solid start towards ending that streak, and create a historic milestone for himself: becoming the first cricketer to score 100 centuries in Tests or one-day internationals.
Tendulkar warmed up for an attempt at the mark when he hit a stylish 92 in India's drawn tour match against a Cricket Australia Chairman's XI a week ago.
Teammate Rahul Dravid has also been in strong form, scoring 1,067 runs in 2011 with five centuries.
But Dravid said he would trade all the personal achievements for a Test series win in Australia.
"I wouldn't have minded scoring five hundreds [fewer] or 1,000 runs less if we could win a series in Australia," Dravid said. "The greatest memory for me now is not necessarily statistical ... it's those magical moments. The series wins in Tests stay with you."
Former India captain Kapil Dev believes his side have edged closer to an elusive Australia series win. And he claims former captain Ricky Ponting, who is in a batting slump, is the biggest threat.
The 37-year-old Ponting has not scored a century in nearly two years, has averaged 50 just once in his past seven series and has made 323 runs at an average of 24 in seven Tests over the past 12 months.
The 158-Test veteran will play in his 15th Boxing Day Test after much speculation on his place.
"I am more concerned about Ricky Ponting than anybody else because he is experienced," Dev said. "If we can control him, we can control the entire Australian team. He has not scored enough runs in the last year, so he is due."
Australia have inconsistent form to contend with, losing eight wickets for 74 in a seven-run loss to No 8-ranked New Zealand in Hobart two weeks ago, New Zealand's first Test win in Australia since 1985.
The collapse came after Australia were dismissed for a record low of 47 at Cape Town weeks earlier.
Yesterday, rival captains Michael Clarke and MS Dhoni said they were anxious to avoid the bad blood that spilled over when India last toured Australia in 2007/08.
Harbhajan Singh was initially suspended for racial abuse after clashing with Australia's Andrew Symonds during the Sydney Test. Amid reports that Anil Kumble's side would go home mid-tour, the suspension was overturned, but he was given a fine.
Australia won the series 2-1.
"The relationship between Australia and India could not be stronger," Clarke said. "We all understand there's a line you can go to but there's a line you can't cross.
"I can guarantee you that nobody in the Australian team will cross that and if they do, there'll be punishments from the ICC but also from Cricket Australia."
Dhoni said sport played a key role in Australia's culture and his players knew what to expect.
"They are a side that play tough when it comes to sport or in life, so it's good to compete against them," Dhoni said. "Even the last series when we were here, we really enjoyed it, keeping the controversies apart."
Dhoni said India would do their best to behave. "A few individuals did make mistakes at that point in time," he said. "It's something that we don't really want to do as professional cricketers.
"There's a lot at stake. People look up to us. So we'll try to keep it controversy-free."