Live Coverage
  Live Scorecards
  Upcoming Matches
  World Cricket News
  USA Cricket News
  American Cricket History
Dreamcricket RSS
Underestimate the Aussies at your own peril - Suresh Menon column
by Suresh Menon
Oct 06, 2008
The changing of guard is a fascinating spectacle, whether at the Buckingham Palace or on the sports field. Australia arrive in India having completed the first half of the operation - the old guard is nearly gone - but with the more difficult half, the new guard replacing it satisfactorily, incomplete. For India, the old guard is looking at its watches, at calendars, at the record books as if to suggest that there is time yet.

In one case, the process of change is underway, in the other, the idea of change is still being debated. While the youngsters in the visitors' squad will be looking to establish their places, it is the veterans in the home side which will be looking for consolidation. If both these events come to pass, we are guaranteed another India-Australia series that will match the best.

Australia's fast bowlers have not bowled in a Test match in India, their lone spinner lacks experience. Their wicketkeeper is new, their first-choice spinner has already flown back home. They were mauled by the Board President's XI in the warm up match in Hyderabad. They are up against an Indian team playing at home with its strong band of batsmen and the most experienced spin combination in the world. Four Tests. Who would you put your money on?

The easy, and obvious answer, of course is India. The ageing middle order - Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, V V S Laxman, Sourav Ganguly - has a point to prove, perhaps a last hurrah or two to attempt. The spinners expect turning tracks (whether they will get it or not is a moot question), and in Mahendra Singh Dhoni they have the premier wicket keeper-batsman in the world.

Yet, if India are not sitting back expecting an easy, pre-ordained series victory, it is because of that quality known as 'Australianness'. It involves the ability to raise the level of the game when under pressure, it involves national pride, it involves an intense desire to prove all detractors wrong. After struggling against the Board President's XI in Hyderabad, Australia were written off. But that might just be the spur the visitors need to get their act together. One of sport's biggest mistakes is to underestimate an Australian team. India were clearly the superior side in 1969-70 in India, in 1977-78 in Australia, in 2004-05 in India, and yet lost all these series.

In Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting Australia have two of the finest batsmen in the world. Mike Hussey, fresh from his century in Hyderabad and Michael Clarke, who began his career with a century in Bangalore, are in the top drawer too. Andrew Symonds will be missed, but professional teams are pragmatic, and know they have to perform with the personnel they have, not with what might have been.

Ranged against the inexperience of their bowlers in Indian conditions is the poor recent form of the leading Indian batsmen. Virender Sehwag might well be the key batsman for India - he has been in great form, and he is under no pressure to quit. India will need a solid start as a cushion for its famed middle order.

In this century, India have beaten Australia more than any other team. Australia have won 70 of the 94 Test matches played, losing just 11 - five to India, four to England and one apiece to South Africa and the West Indies. That is an awesome record. In the same period, India have won 34 of their 91 Tests and lost 27.

Even without the baggage the teams carry into the series, therefore, there is promise of excitement.
More Views by Suresh Menon
  Shots that changed cricket
  Rain interruptions - poor scheduling and lack of preparedness
  Cricketers and depression
  Retiring reluctantly
  Cricket wins in Supreme Court vs BCCI match-up
Write to us to find out how your club or league can get the benefits of being an affiliate of the DreamCricket League platform.

DreamCricket.com runs an Academy that is an affiliate of the USA Cricket Association (USACA).
  About Us  |   Dreamcricket in the Media  |   Event Management  |   Disclaimer © 2014 DreamCricket.com