India in Australia 2011-12 December 22, 2011

India's quicks' fitness key to series - Warne


Shane Warne believes India's chances in the upcoming Test series in Australia will hinge on the fitness of fast bowlers Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan. Both men have had ankle problems in recent times and Warne believes a lack of depth in India's attack could be exposed if Ishant and Zaheer are not at full fitness for the series, which begins at the MCG on December 26.

Ishant was bothered by a dodgy ankle during the first of the two tour games in Canberra last week, and he bowled only four overs in the second match, on the final day. Zaheer is coming back from surgery on his ankle; he did not play in the first match and then sent down 15 overs in the second game. Neither man has yet taken a wicket on the tour.

"India has a quality team, as they've been showing in recent times," Warne said. "In Test cricket we've seen them, against West Indies, do well. But before that they played England in England and got beaten 4-0 with a swinging ball and a good English seam attack. Their batsmen will do pretty well.

"Their bowlers will have to stay fit. If Zaheer Khan or Ishant Sharma get injured, then I think their bowling attack could be quite weak. The Australian batsmen could perform pretty well. I think it's going to come down to how India are going to take 20 wickets with their bowling.

"I think their batters, especially Rahul Dravid, will make big runs. He's a quality person, he's a quality act, he's a quality player. Hopefully Sachin [Tendulkar] will get his hundredth hundred here. It would be a great time to do it here at the MCG in front of 70 or 80,000."

Warne was speaking outside the MCG at the unveiling of a bronze statue of him in his legspinning stride, the first in a series to be known as the Avenue of Legends. His former captain Mark Taylor was also at the ceremony but, unlike Warne, he was less certain that India's outstanding batting line-up would thrive this summer against an attack led by James Pattinson and Peter Siddle.

"They've been great players," Taylor said. "I'll be interested to see, though, how they'll go against this young Australian bowling line-up, because I don't feel that Sachin, Rahul and VVS [Laxman] are getting tested as often as say Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey have in recent times.

"They have been tested on wickets that have been more bowler-friendly, whereas Sachin and Rahul and VVS play a lot of their cricket in India, where the wickets are generally flatter and don't bounce as much, don't move off the seam. This will be a really good test for them, and a good test for our fast bowlers. I reckon they [Australia's bowlers] are up to it. I think that's going to be one of the highlights of the summer, to see how those ageing batsmen from India go against the young quicks."

Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman are all older than Ponting, who has struggled for form over the past two years and has not made a Test century since January 2010. Taylor endured a similar slump in the later years of his career, but even his longest stretch without a Test hundred was only 24 innings; Ponting's has now ballooned to 31.

"He's probably in a similar boat to where I was, and I think Steve Waugh had the same problem getting towards the end of your career," Taylor said. "It's not that you can't do it anymore. You just need a moment where a lucky break goes your way or you just play a shot where you think, there it is, and Ricky is probably that close. Boxing Day has generally been pretty good to him … hopefully, over the five days here, we'll see the real Ricky Ponting."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Soumya on December 24, 2011, 20:16 GMT

    @Mad_Hamish Dude, it is silly to check the stat for the past 60 years. If you check the statistics of India in Australia in the last 10 years you will find Aus to Ind (W:D:L) as 3:3:2.;home_or_away=1;opposition=6;spanmax1=24+Dec+2011;spanmin1=24+Dec+2001;spanval1=span;team=2;template=results;type=team;view=results That was when Australia were sweeping everything that came their way. Aus is a much weaker team now. I will definitely put my money on India.

  • Akshay on December 24, 2011, 17:11 GMT

    @ PakCricket-Elite .. i'd like to see what would you have to say after the series is over.

  • Hamish on December 24, 2011, 13:45 GMT

    @Subhash Devadiga have a look at how many of India's wins have come in Australia.;home_or_away=1;opposition=6;team=2;template=results;type=team;view=results shows that since 1990 India has won 2 tests in Australia out of 16. The results in India really have no bearing on the likely results of the current series (check Kumble and Harbi against Aus at home and away to see the difference in conditions). Now if Khan is fit and bowls as well as he can that could swing things hugely in India's favour and, obviously, the inexperienced attack and inexperienced or past it batting lineup for Australia could well be a huge issue as well. But quoting 12:10 doesn't mean much because almost all of the Indian wins have come at home. The conditions matter a huge amount (and yes, even when Australia had McGrath I was always dubious of their chances in India)

  • Dummy4 on December 24, 2011, 11:36 GMT

    @Pakcricket-Elite please wake its Pakistan not playing Australia who had taken 15 years to register a single victory its India whoms record stand 12-10 against the same side Australia during these periods

  • Dummy4 on December 24, 2011, 6:09 GMT

    home or abroad India still play weak bowling unit with 1 or may be Two Strike bowlers in last 15 years against Aussies Still the wiining ration count 12:10 favouring India,Whatever the bowling may be its the batting line up that must deliver the goods and for me thats will make the differences

  • Randolph on December 24, 2011, 3:58 GMT

    @LillianThompson - check and mate.

  • Roo on December 24, 2011, 3:50 GMT

    @Mad_Hamish... Agree... The best spin bowler in the world (Swann) found the going tough in Australia in all but one Test last summer... In the other Tests he averaged just 2 wkts per Test match... Even the great spin bowler Muttiah Muralitharan had his poorest overseas average in Australia... I expect the spinners to get some wickets, but the bulk of them will come from the seamers...

  • Hamish on December 24, 2011, 0:44 GMT

    Those who say that Australia can't play spin might want to look at the performance of various non-Australian spinners in tests in Australia. Most Australian batsmen don't do all that well starting against spin in India but they do pretty well against it in Australia. There aren't many touring spinners who've done well in Australia in tests, it's especially tough for finger spinners. It's not impossible to do so (a lot of touring quicks haven't done well in India but the Windies pace quarter & McGrath did) but I don't think Ashwin and Ojha have bowled here before this tour and it does take time to adjust. Generally in Australia you need quicks to do most of the damage and wrist spinners are more useful than finger spinners.

  • zia on December 24, 2011, 0:30 GMT

    @ "Apoorv Pandey" & "G. Narsimha" My Humble Request to Both of you Please Check Previous Records for Each team against Other teams, You will find Exact Information about the world's best Teams. And also Check which Country of the world produced more talented players and still producing!!! Well it is a bitter thruth for you Guys that your bollywood movies leave very bad impact on your minds, that is why always you dream the things on every platform far from the ground realities. Write down on a paper that Australia is going to win this test series with 4-0 or 3-1. Good Luck!!!

  • Anubhav on December 23, 2011, 22:20 GMT

    I believe Warne is spot on here, as Geoffrey Boycott recently said, our team does have an enduring bowling problem. I sometimes think the reason is the fact that everytime we play Cricket in India, evbody wants to bat and rarely would you see someone genuinely interested in bowling or fielding, those are given secondary status in comparison to batting. If Zak and Ishant fail to play or perform, I fail to see us bowling Aussies out, and If any other way to win a test match has been discovered, id like to know that.

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