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Why too much focus on the absence of Smith and Warner should not make India complacent

ANALYST
Feature
535   //    20 Nov 2018, 11:51 IST

Steve Smith and David Warner with the Ashes Urn
Steve Smith and David Warner with the Ashes Urn

With Cricket Australia upholding the ban imposed on the tainted trio, it is certain that they will have no role to play in the India series. With all due respect to Cameron Bancroft, it is the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner that will significantly impact the fortunes of the Australian team.

In the past few weeks, there has been way too much focus on the absence of the two star batsmen and its impact on the series. It seems many ‘experts’ have already written off Australia, even before a ball is bowled.

There is no denying the impact their absence could potentially have. However, it will be a mistake to underestimate this Australian team, even without their two star batsmen. As they showed in the Pakistan series, they are still capable of being competitive.

In the absence of Warner, Aaron Finch has been chosen as the opening batsman. He can be equally explosive at the top of the order, and in the company of a more defensive Usman Khawaja, he can form a deadly opening combination.

Smith’s absence in the middle order will surely be felt by the Australians. But in the Marsh brothers, Tim Paine, and possibly Glen Maxwell, they have a more than capable batting order. The fact that they will be playing in familiar home conditions is something that should not be discounted.

But for a moment, let’s assume that the Australian batting struggles to cope with the absence of Warner and Smith. Even in that hypothetical scenario, it will be wrong to assume that in such an event, an Indian victory is guaranteed. Because, if the last two away series in South Africa and England are anything to go by, it’s not the Indian bowling, rather the batting that has been the culprit in India’s series losses.

Australia has a world-class bowling line up with Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, and Peter Siddle forming a fearsome pace bowling quartet. Add the intelligent off-spin of Nathan Lyon, who has often outperformed the supposedly more versatile spinners such as Ravichandran Ashwin, and you have a terrific bowling outfit that can give the Indian batsmen a hard time.

One just hopes that the constant talk of Smith-Warner absence and the supposedly weakest Australian side that India would face down-under does not bring in a sense of complacency to Virat Kohli’s team. That indeed would be a huge blunder.

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