Over the years, India have been blessed to have witnessed some absolute legends of the game whose records speak for themselves. They have given us countless joyous memories which we have cherished. Batting has always been our strength and spin bowling has been our forte. Yet, over the past 70 years, India have never won a Test series against Australia in Australia. We have had some memorable tours Down Under where we have drawn the series, but we are yet to win one. In the forthcoming series though, Team India promises to break the jinx. Australia are going through a rough phase without their two best players and India have never looked better. In view of this mouth-watering clash, Sportsnasha has interviewed former Indian Cricketer, Mr. Yajurvindra Singh. Here are the excerpts –
For this tour, India have sent a big squad of 18 players. Was there a need to send such a big squad?
- It’s a good idea actually. Considering the financial prowess of BCCI, they can afford to send even 20 players. But this is good thinking on the selectors’ part. Due to such a big unit, we will get additional net bowlers to practice because of which, our frontline bowlers will get adequate rest. Thus every bowler will get an experience to bowl in those conditions. Also, if a touring team requests for bowlers for net practice from the hosts, their quality is not always of the greatest standard. Hence, this seems a good idea. The More the merrier.
What are your views on Team India’s preparation for this series?
- I don’t think that we are that well prepared for the tests. We saw what happened in South Africa and England. And the situation here is pretty much the same. There is only one practice game before the tests. Some of the players who’ve played in T20s might get a better idea of the conditions. But for a smooth transition from white ball to red ball, you need adequate preparation. With just one practice game before the tests, I believe that our preparation isn’t quite up to the mark.
Historically, we have seen Indian batting collapsing after laying a good foundation by the top and middle order. Do you believe that the tail-enders need to be trained to bat while on tour?
- That’s a good point. I think that today’s tail-enders have realized the importance of surviving at the crease. The batting coach might well have to spend some time with the tail-enders in the nets. If you look at the series between Sri Lanka and England which was just concluded, England had the upper hand mainly because of the contributions of their lower order. Hence for a touring side, the tail-enders need to show some character to stay at the wicket to get an edge over the hosts.
What are your views on our bowling attack and what should be the ideal composition of the side for the first match?
- I believe we had a better attack in 1985 where we had a combination of some really good seamers and spinners. However, this present bowling attack also looks a decent one. All the bowlers seem to be in good rhythm. But the real concern lies in our batting. On the previous tour in 2014, we had pretty much the same side barring a few changes. So, I think India have gone with a tried and tested combination rather than experimenting with someone new. We are the present No.1 test team. Yet we lost in South Africa and England. So, this tour presented a great opportunity to try somebody new. In this team, there really isn’t anybody different apart from Prithvi Shaw and Vihari. I can understand the captain wanting the tried and tested people because he would want to win every match. But this where the selectors need to play their part. After this tour, India won’t be playing tests for a while. Hence instead of looking only at this series, the selectors should have tried some youngsters in view of the future. I feel our selectors have made a slight blunder.
For the first test, I feel India will play their regular top-5 with a sixth batsman in the form of Rohit Sharma. Even though Kuldeep has done well, I feel India will go ahead with Ashwin considering at his experience and batting skills.
It has been observed that a batsman should have a good back-foot game to succeed in Australia. Who do you think from the current Indian lot is a good back-foot player?
- Nowadays, with the game getting inclined more towards the batsmen, almost everyone plays predominantly on the front foot. But I feel the chap who will come out with flying colors is the young man – Prithvi Shaw. He does have good shots to score square of the wicket. Rohit Sharma has the ability to play well on such wickets too. But I doubt his technique and temperament as a test player. Vijay and Rahane have done well in the past. And Virat Kohli can do no wrong at the moment. They are all good enough players. More than anything else, they will have to adapt to the bounce on Australian wickets.
Finally, what is your prediction for the series?
- (Laughing) Being Indians, we will always have India as favorites in all the games. We had India as favorites when they toured South Africa and England as well. We feel the same this time again. On paper, we certainly have a better squad. But playing The Aussies in their own den is always challenging. They are tremendous fighters no matter what their side and the situation is. However, if we compare the two teams, India looks slightly better and I expect them to win the series 2-1. We had nearly won the series in 1985 and 2003-04. But this current Indian team has the potential to go all the way.
Preview by Yajurvindra Singh
Written by Prasad Palkar