What’s the story?
Harbhajan Singh didn’t mince words when asked by The Daily News about the outcome of the upcoming India-Australia Test series. He vehemently backed India to blank Australia.
“If Australia play well, India will win 3-0. That is if Australia play well. Otherwise, 4-0.”
He said the pitches are unlikely to favour Australia and hinted that their batting strength is limited.
“I don’t think the wickets are going to be that easy for them,” the off-spinner said. “If the ball starts spinning from the first ball, I don’t think they will survive for long. This team, apart from (David) Warner and (Steve) Smith, I don’t think will be able to play the game they play in Australian conditions here in India.”
Australia play the first Test match against India on the 23 of February. Their last Test win against India came way back in 2004.
And despite overcoming a listless Pakistan at home, their recent form has been far from encouraging. They drew a bank on the Test tour of Sri Lanka and were handed a pounding by the visiting South Africans at home.
According the Harbhajan Singh, the Australian sides in the past played with a lot more belief and displayed a strong desire to win. This team however, he said, does not have the belief to win in sub-continental conditions.
The veteran off-spinner with 417 Test wickets also indicated that the spinners in Australia’s touring party is unlikely to trouble the established Indian batting line up. Australia, in keeping with the conditions in India, has roped in Nathan Lyon, Steve O’Keefe, Ashton Agar and Mitchell Swepson. But Harbhajan Singh remains unimpressed.
While stating that bowling in India is an entirely different proposition when compared to bowling in Australia, he said bowling at the right speed is vital to success here.
“From the first ball you need to bowl that correct speed. Not many spinners have done that in India for the last 15 years.”
Australia is currently playing a warm-up match against India A in Mumbai. Thereafter, they will criss-cross the country while playing the hosts in what will be a gruelling four-match Test series.
A confident India has announced its squad for the first two Tests against the tourists. They will be fielding the same team that took on Bangladesh in the one-off Test against Bangladesh.
India is in the midst of a 19 Test unbeaten streak. As for Australia, their recent series win against Pakistan handed them and their beleaguered captain, Steven Smith, a lifeline.
On the basis of current form and home condition advantage, it appears that Australia will have to come up with a superhuman effort to overhaul India. That said, India will do well not to take Australia lightly.
Steve Waugh recently indicated that it would be foolish to write off Australia and Virat Kohli would know this better than anyone else. His aggressive brand of cricket has done wonders to the side. And as a charged up India take on the tourists, the series has all the making of anther blockbuster.