India in Australia 2011-12 December 23, 2011

Laxman impressed with seamers' fitness

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The first thing you notice at India's nets at the MCG is that Zaheer Khan has come back a leaner man, going all out during the training session, watching Umesh Yadav closely, discussing his action before going on to bowl again. Ishant Sharma is bowling too, though not as many overs as Zaheer and Yadav, but still a fair share. Ishant's ankle is still strapped, but there seems to be no talk of a replacement being called up from India.

There is general optimism around the Indian camp. Ishant turns around and laughs when he hears a TV reporter say in his piece-to-camera, done in close vicinity of the nets, that Ishant's ankle remains India's main worry and that his selection decision will be made on the morning of the Test, three days from now. Yadav and Zaheer continue to have a discussion around his action, between deliveries. Eric Simmons, the bowling coach, looks relieved too.

After the debacle in England, especially when it came to fast bowlers' fitness, you can't be sure until they have played the whole series, but after the initial scare with Ishant's ankle they seem to have recovered. After walking off in the first practice game, and then missing the first innings of the second, Ishant came back to bowl on the last day in Canberra.

"Ishant didn't finish the first practice game in Canberra," VVS Laxman said, "but the way he bowled in the second innings of the (Cricket Australia) Chairman's XI in the second match, and also the way he bowled today at the nets is proof that they are both fit and raring to go."

Laxman was also referring to Zaheer. His injury on the opening day of the Lord's Test this July was one of the big turning points of the series. Andrew Flintoff had immediately tweeted that if Zaheer didn't come back to bowl, that could be the series to England. In his time out of the team, though, Zaheer seems to have worked hard on his rehabilitation. It is hard to miss, especially in comparison with the shape he went to England in.

"When you are playing the international game, injuries become part and parcel of a player's life," Laxman said. "If you see, even the Australians are missing their frontline bowlers because of the injuries. But it's good to see the way Zaheer Khan has come back after his ankle surgery. He is lean and fit, and you can see he has really worked hard on his fitness."

India's other concern on overseas tours of late has been the lack of time to prepare, but this time the team came to Australia well in advance and got two tour games apart from the general nets and acclimatisation. Laxman, though, believes that the time they have been able to spend as a team in Australia has been equally important.

"Last time we had one side game against Victoria team but it was rained out, so we directly went to a Test match without preparation," Laxman said. "So we are quite happy with the way we have prepared. Also we are able to spend a lot of time together, especially with the one-day boys who have recovered from the tough schedule they had. I think it was quite good the way we spend around 10 days in Canberra and we are quite happy with our preparations, and hopefully we can start performing from the word go."

India aren't used to feeling so good before the overseas tour, even though this should be par for the course. They had to deal with such fitness worries in the lead-up to each of their last three tours. However, the indications right now are that as Boxing Day approaches, they are getting more and more confident about the availability of their first three bowling choices - Zaheer, Ishant and Yadav - and also about the time they have spent in local conditions.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • g.narsimha on December 25, 2011, 6:27 GMT

    DAVEBROWN, You must be kidding when did SHANEWARNE was a threate to INDIANS, plcheck ,he averages more than 50 per indian wicket INDIANS yust treated him as a club level bowler how ever i love him he was terror to all except indians, particulerly to poms,when we perfom you people start saying .that in absence of A,B ORC our bats men scored ,as if those figures doesnt count ,if indias wins in INDIA it doesnt count for you peole , only wins in your backyard counts ,what agreate logic..

  • zenboomerang on December 25, 2011, 3:11 GMT

    @Chris_P ... Thanks... And agree with your comments - Johnson needs to work on his bowling action & only SS or County cricket will do that... Think the Indian bowlers will come out firing but hard pitches & back to back Tests will put a strain on them... The curator @MCG says it will be 'lively' on the 1st day then calm down so hope Clarke takes notice & remembers last MCG pitch...

  • on December 24, 2011, 15:59 GMT

    i keep reading how well India done in Oz in 2003. Having looked at the scoreboards it is not a surprise. The bowling attack used is probably weaker than the current one! Gillespie 3 tests, Bracken 2, Lee 2, MacGill 4, Bichel 2, and Williams 2. Yes, no Warne, no McGrath, Whilst Lee and Gillespie didn't even play in all four matches. So, okay, you did well against a second string Oz bowling line up; Hardly playing the invincible like a lot have been suggesting. If Warne, McGrath, Lee and Gillespie had all played the whole series 2003 would have been the same as every other time India have toured Australia.

  • screamingeagle on December 24, 2011, 15:04 GMT

    Thats right Randyoz, keep living on past glories.The way you are going, it might be a while before you win a series. 47 all out...now that is hilarious.

  • Kewal999 on December 24, 2011, 14:50 GMT

    Everyone's worried about the fitness of India's opening bowlers, but this series, the performance of India's opening batsmen is going to be equally critical if not more.They performed poorly against England and look what happend to rest of the so called greatest batting line-up in the world. Sehwag's form can never be predicted, but Gambhir's form is worrisome.

  • RandyOZ on December 24, 2011, 13:22 GMT

    Hilarious that every comment coming from Indian fans manages to avoid the fact that they have NEVER won a series in Oz, yeh that's right, NEVER. Just want to remind everyone of that. Hilarious.

  • ssenthil on December 24, 2011, 12:41 GMT

    @Raashid Shah, This year current leading wicket taker is Ashok Dinda at the end of all league matches. 37 wickets in 6 Matches and finished the year with top having taken a 10 for against Irfan Pathan's Baroda in Baroda home ground, were Irfan Pathan returned wicket-less. Now who bowled better? Ashok Dinda or Irfan Pathan?

  • bolerocf on December 24, 2011, 12:11 GMT

    India are missing Varun Aaaron (the fastest bowler in India), Sreesanth and Praveen Kumar in the test series due to injury. The 3 aforementioned are far better bowlers than trundlers Mithun and Vinay Kumar. Even Irfan Pathan is a better pick than Vinay Kumar.

  • Naresh28 on December 24, 2011, 12:07 GMT

    @ken Atkinson how can you comment on future Indian Team whEN YOU HAVE NOT SEEN OR heard of some of the youngsters waiting to take over from the big three. These younsters are waiting. India won the emrging players tournament in Australia a few months ago. So young talent is there.There are so many batsman waiting not enough slots. Rohit Sharma and Kohli are actually part of the team right now. There is Pujara, Pandey,Badrinath,Rahane etc. Pace bowlers are less but there is some there. Spinners there is Rahul Sharma, Jadeja, and a few others to mention.

  • endoftest on December 24, 2011, 11:33 GMT

    @arun_padmanabhan , rightly said ...no need to cry for irfan pathan....if he is not in the squad means he is not there ....we need to support the people in the squad and hope they come out good. @Raashid Shah , just taking more wickets cannot be a criteria. Some times bowlers get wickets because of batsmen's mistake, umpire's courtesy and offcourse fielders alertness ....

  • g.narsimha on December 25, 2011, 6:27 GMT

    DAVEBROWN, You must be kidding when did SHANEWARNE was a threate to INDIANS, plcheck ,he averages more than 50 per indian wicket INDIANS yust treated him as a club level bowler how ever i love him he was terror to all except indians, particulerly to poms,when we perfom you people start saying .that in absence of A,B ORC our bats men scored ,as if those figures doesnt count ,if indias wins in INDIA it doesnt count for you peole , only wins in your backyard counts ,what agreate logic..

  • zenboomerang on December 25, 2011, 3:11 GMT

    @Chris_P ... Thanks... And agree with your comments - Johnson needs to work on his bowling action & only SS or County cricket will do that... Think the Indian bowlers will come out firing but hard pitches & back to back Tests will put a strain on them... The curator @MCG says it will be 'lively' on the 1st day then calm down so hope Clarke takes notice & remembers last MCG pitch...

  • on December 24, 2011, 15:59 GMT

    i keep reading how well India done in Oz in 2003. Having looked at the scoreboards it is not a surprise. The bowling attack used is probably weaker than the current one! Gillespie 3 tests, Bracken 2, Lee 2, MacGill 4, Bichel 2, and Williams 2. Yes, no Warne, no McGrath, Whilst Lee and Gillespie didn't even play in all four matches. So, okay, you did well against a second string Oz bowling line up; Hardly playing the invincible like a lot have been suggesting. If Warne, McGrath, Lee and Gillespie had all played the whole series 2003 would have been the same as every other time India have toured Australia.

  • screamingeagle on December 24, 2011, 15:04 GMT

    Thats right Randyoz, keep living on past glories.The way you are going, it might be a while before you win a series. 47 all out...now that is hilarious.

  • Kewal999 on December 24, 2011, 14:50 GMT

    Everyone's worried about the fitness of India's opening bowlers, but this series, the performance of India's opening batsmen is going to be equally critical if not more.They performed poorly against England and look what happend to rest of the so called greatest batting line-up in the world. Sehwag's form can never be predicted, but Gambhir's form is worrisome.

  • RandyOZ on December 24, 2011, 13:22 GMT

    Hilarious that every comment coming from Indian fans manages to avoid the fact that they have NEVER won a series in Oz, yeh that's right, NEVER. Just want to remind everyone of that. Hilarious.

  • ssenthil on December 24, 2011, 12:41 GMT

    @Raashid Shah, This year current leading wicket taker is Ashok Dinda at the end of all league matches. 37 wickets in 6 Matches and finished the year with top having taken a 10 for against Irfan Pathan's Baroda in Baroda home ground, were Irfan Pathan returned wicket-less. Now who bowled better? Ashok Dinda or Irfan Pathan?

  • bolerocf on December 24, 2011, 12:11 GMT

    India are missing Varun Aaaron (the fastest bowler in India), Sreesanth and Praveen Kumar in the test series due to injury. The 3 aforementioned are far better bowlers than trundlers Mithun and Vinay Kumar. Even Irfan Pathan is a better pick than Vinay Kumar.

  • Naresh28 on December 24, 2011, 12:07 GMT

    @ken Atkinson how can you comment on future Indian Team whEN YOU HAVE NOT SEEN OR heard of some of the youngsters waiting to take over from the big three. These younsters are waiting. India won the emrging players tournament in Australia a few months ago. So young talent is there.There are so many batsman waiting not enough slots. Rohit Sharma and Kohli are actually part of the team right now. There is Pujara, Pandey,Badrinath,Rahane etc. Pace bowlers are less but there is some there. Spinners there is Rahul Sharma, Jadeja, and a few others to mention.

  • endoftest on December 24, 2011, 11:33 GMT

    @arun_padmanabhan , rightly said ...no need to cry for irfan pathan....if he is not in the squad means he is not there ....we need to support the people in the squad and hope they come out good. @Raashid Shah , just taking more wickets cannot be a criteria. Some times bowlers get wickets because of batsmen's mistake, umpire's courtesy and offcourse fielders alertness ....

  • on December 24, 2011, 11:32 GMT

    @karachii Australia toured Pakistan 1998 and won the series 1-0, while in 2002 Australia played 3 test against Pakistan 1 in colombo and Two in Sharjah Pitches which suits Pakistan more than Australia,where Australia one sidedly maulled Pakistan 3-0 If you beleive anti-Pakistani umpiring in 1999 hobart eg Justin Langer was given not out clearly out caught behind off Wasim Akram cost Pakistan the game he was too not out given out in the first inning of the same test that balance the equation.umpiring errors done frequently in Australia favoring the home team more and mark my word India faced the unjustice more than any one else playing against aus than also our record against them stand better

  • on December 24, 2011, 11:32 GMT

    karachi kidreally appreciate your comment india did well in this decade than pak iveseen there is sense of jelousy in some of our pakistanies buddy butexceptions like you are here alsoin 2008 because of biased uparing in australia if not happened india would have take the series

  • arun_padmanabhan on December 24, 2011, 11:24 GMT

    @ ken atkinson : i am not surprised at your lack of knowledge of the indian bench strength, as you dont need to..but, what am surprised at is your theory of uphill-downhill..Sure, australia may rise in the rankings, but dont expect india to slide badly. and yeah, sachin is not the last good cricketer to be churned by the indian domestic circuit..

  • arun_padmanabhan on December 24, 2011, 11:19 GMT

    @raashid shah : i very well know that he has taken more than 20 wickets and 2-3 five-fers..But, he has just returned to domestic cricket and has just found form. If topping the charts is what should get a player into the national side, then why is vinay kumar and mithun drawing flak??!! Look, am not a supporter of vinay or mithun. What am saying is irfan is not yet ready to make a test comeback..If he shows consistency in form, he will and he should make a comeback in 2012..

  • on December 24, 2011, 11:17 GMT

    I hope this time india will take test serious in the histoty. i pray to god to take serious first time in aus soil not only that i so expecting the great batsman will make century.

  • Chris_P on December 24, 2011, 10:57 GMT

    @moBlue. That test in Sydney in 2003? I was there and let me tell you, the pitch was an absolute road. Australia batted the last day losing only a couple of wickets and even then Waugh threw his away chasing a ton. Last day pitches should have offered something yet Kumble & Khartik had zero impact. Same for the other 3 venues that series, all of them were roads. Nothing like that has been seen since. so any analagy with the 2003/04 series is pretty well moot as the pitches will not be the same given this year has been wettest season this country has had in 50 years. Prior comparisons mean nothing, but let me indulge you, last series, VVS put on over 50 runs to win a test by one wicket, and this against one of the poorest Aussie teams ever placed. So what? That is the past. You can put a spiel on anything. What matters is the present & future.

  • stormy16 on December 24, 2011, 9:43 GMT

    The series will be decided on which team can get 20 wickets and one would imagine Aus's inexperienced attack with struggle against a strong Indian batting line. If Zaheer and Ishant dont play the Indians will strugle but mind you the Aus batting doesnt really give you too much confidence. The wickets will be the key and Aus should prepare seam friendly wickets with bounce to have any chance against the strong Indian attack. Adelaid and Sydney will be problems for Aus where I dont see them struggling against the India batting. One thing Aus dont want to do is present any spin friendly conditions at these two venues as the Indians will run in front. Should be a great series and should also be a changing of the guard in both camps at the end of the series and dont expect to see big retirement announcements from some of the greats at the end of the series.

  • KarachiKid on December 24, 2011, 9:39 GMT

    @Subhash Devadiga: acknowledged our poor record against Aussies, but dont forget, none of these 15 tests were played in Pakistan ! and then their was some extremely anti-Pakistan umpiring - Hobart 99, Colombo 2002 immediately come to mind. Anyways, obviously India did much better in last 10 years.

  • on December 24, 2011, 9:27 GMT

    Arun Padmanabhan, on the topic of Irfans current form and fitness before you made daft allegations you should have had a look at the top wicket takers in this years Ranji trophy.

  • on December 24, 2011, 9:11 GMT

    ken atkison you watch cricket or not india have umesh yadav varun aaron bowls at 150 far better than cummins and pattison bet me two worldclass spinners aswin ojha aussies lyon india might borrow aussies a spinner better than him also kohli is far talented player than marsh warner khwaja rohit sharma is far talented than kohli and ajinkya rahane waych one days in england how he smashed broad and co and gambhir shewag dhoni are there for 5 to 7 years and some exceptional talent is awaiting manish pandey robin utthapa india have dozens replacements compare to aussies and england i think australia will be at 7 or8 at the end of 2012 england india sa at top

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on December 24, 2011, 9:01 GMT

    "Laxman impressed with seamers' fitness", which, given the average test cricketer's idea of fitness, means that the players' have given up lard sandwiches for a week, oh how England outclasses the rest!

  • on December 24, 2011, 8:48 GMT

    I sense that during this series we will see a changing of the guard in both camps. I predict we will see the end of careers for a number of players, namely Ponting, Hussey and Haddin for Aust. and Sachin, Laxman, Sewhag and maybe Dravid for India. I can also sense opposing movement in the test rankings for both teams. Aust. have a positive outlook with the likes of Marsh, Warner and Cowan significantly bolstering what has been a brittle batting lineup of recent times, and the emergence of two genuine and exciting speedsters in Pattinson and Cummins offering real hope of providing a fearsome attack. Sadly, I think India's light is waning. I think they have gone past their peak and can't see too much on offer to take the reigns when Sachin and co. retire. Their bowling stocks look limited and they could really struggle if Ishant or Zaheer break down. Anyway, let's hope for a really good close series and a fitting end to some great careers.

  • arun_padmanabhan on December 24, 2011, 8:36 GMT

    first of all, a juicy series on many fronts- last aussie tour for vvs, rd , sachin ; indian frontline bowlers fit for an overseas tour at last ; a chance to look at the emerging players from both sides , i.e, warner, patterson, lyon ,ashwin, kohli, yadav..cant wait for the test to start. People gunning for IRFAN PATHAN in the test squad are either his blind fans, ignoring his CURRENT form and fitness, or people too jealous that players from other re(LI??)gions are getting into the national squad(Enough said)..having said that, pathan still has age and has a lot of potential to become someone like pravven kumar..Lets hope he has a good 2012..

  • moBlue on December 24, 2011, 8:21 GMT

    @ bravobravo and other IND naysayers: not so fast, my friend. "IND have always been mediocre"? don't let facts get in the way, do you? check out the cricinfo archive for 2003 IND vs. AUS down-under. the final result was 1-1. do you know what happened in the last test in sydney? don't take my word for it. guess how much IND piled up on the then-world champions batting first? with the kind of condescension you displayed, you would never guess! 700-plus!!! yes. *only* IND batters could have done that at that time!!! ...and IND had AUS by the throat throughout the test too. "the toughest home series" - gilchrist; "i can't remember playing a team like them!" - langer; AUS in trouble at the SCG - a cricinfo headline after day 3. does that tell you IND have "always been mediocre"?!? AUS escaped only thanks to bucknor's generosity. don't take my word for it - check out reports for day 5! guess what, 4 batters from that match are in *this* team, and in form as well!!! your bull doesn't fly!

  • Chris_P on December 24, 2011, 8:07 GMT

    @zenboomerang. Absolutely spot on, Johnson, for all intents & purposes is gone. Pattinson, Harris & Cummins , when fit, should be the first 3 picked. Before Johnson you can add, Starc, Copeland, Hilfenhaus, Siddle, Hazelwood and a host of others. I was a big fan of his and hoped that the return to South Africa would re-ignite that old fire. But sadly, his technique has left him and he simply doesn't deserve to even be considered let alone selected. I am not sure if the Indian team is playing mind games with the fitness 'cloud" of their players or not, bit all will be revealed shortly. This is not the country to be touring if you have any injuries, the grounds are unforgiving and you just make matters worse.

  • ishrat1971 on December 24, 2011, 7:09 GMT

    I hope and pray that this is indeed a series where two great teams, one on the ascent and the other trying to regain its glory battle it out playing positive cricket. The bowling for India will be paramount with Zaheer Khan untested after the England Series. He is not only the spearhead but the talisman. If he performs then the bowling unit will rally around him, Ishant needs a cool head to guide him. SRT will need all his experience and Dravid the wall will also need to steer the middle order. May the best team win. Lets hope for some exciting cricket

  • on December 24, 2011, 6:56 GMT

    Irfan Pathan, who had a very good series in australia in the past should be given a chance instead of unfit Ishant Sharma because he is an trust worthy all rounder and had served india a lot in the past. So this is the right time for him to get the chance so that he can prove his mettle.

  • ssenthil on December 24, 2011, 6:52 GMT

    I feel Zak will play the Boxing day Test with out any Issues while there always will be a concern over Ishant. India should play with Ishant and I hope he delivers well like he did in WI series, were he found a lot of bounce offered from those pitches with a bit of seam movement. Ashwin may be the front line spinner and I don't expect him to be a trump for India as spinners generally struggled in Aus and if Ashwin return with about 40 Avg it would be great IMO. Anything below 40 per wicket may be Impressive but I don't think Ashwin can do better then Swanny. May be India should get in Ashok Dinda as cover as he just end up as leading wicket taker with a 10 for against Baroda were Irfan went WICKET-LESS in the Ranji and Bangal not qualified for knock out. Ishant however should be rested for the new year Test in SCG and P Ojha should come in and Ishant again play in Perth but sent back to home for a Surgery and in Adelaide we SHOULD go with 2 spinners only. All the best to Indian Bowlers

  • endoftest on December 24, 2011, 6:38 GMT

    Lot of people are supporting irfan pathan ( not in team ) ...but really no support of vinay/mithun. so what if they dont have speed, all we need is 10 wicket taking balls in an innings. We need to get best with what we have than crying for irfan. Again he has taken wickets in domestic matches like other 2 ....so everyone is on same line. STOP discouraging others and hope every bowler comes good. And again we all need a hard fought evenly balanced match not a one sided one .......if people blame ST,Dravid, Laxman for playing on flat tracks , what is their fault. Again where in the cricket rules it is written the pitches should be like in england/aus/SA. ..........Best of Luck India and Aussies.

  • ats78 on December 24, 2011, 6:32 GMT

    @Bravo Bravo. Looks like you from West Indies and your thoughts are similar to their current state of cricket, anyways will see how your negativity against India works. I see an Indian win against the aussies 2-1.. Lets see. Be positive dude...

  • on December 24, 2011, 6:27 GMT

    @Sajil Alakkalakath Mahmood ,For beating Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe Great Pakistan team are their India are focussing to beat Australia in Australia,The side (Aus)which Pakistan taken 15 years to register a single Test Victory During same period India record agst Aussie shows 12-10 Salute to Champion side Pakistan what a team

  • on December 24, 2011, 6:21 GMT

    From Indian Point of veiw I strictly believe they should field the fittest even inexperienced bowlers in the Park not the Experience but half fit,Last Fifteen years Statistic reaveals that India beaten Australia through scoring runs heavily and aussies lost their 20 wickets through Panick and being put to under pressure Chasing Big scores than oppositions Bowling brilliance,Only Mumbai Test 2004 is what India won through their bowlers on a dust bowls

  • velutn on December 24, 2011, 5:40 GMT

    reply heat with the fire. see.. aussies are not good for 350+ score.. gambir is itchy during start.. noproblem for remaining 4 kohli or Rohit equally good. ashwin and zak holds the key.. i never felt ishant rips out opponent on his own. on his best show he can get 3 or max four. umesh surprise(unknown) commadity.. hopefor good show. 1-1 , if some body repeats ganguly's heroic's of last test series in first match.

  • SBMURALI on December 24, 2011, 5:28 GMT

    Show the 'Fitness' in the field on Monday.

  • jkaussie on December 24, 2011, 4:47 GMT

    I think India's fast bowlers are pulling one over on the media and the Aussie team - I reckon they are ready to go but have been trying to lull everybody into thinking they are injured. Either way, there's a lot of pressure on both teams. India want to give the big 3 a massive send off, and also win their first series in Australia. Oh, and keep their ranking higher than us. And the Aussies don't want to lose another series at home! Should be agreat 1st test, really looking forward to it.

  • on December 24, 2011, 4:01 GMT

    Instead of struggling Ishanth, Irfan should have been a given a opportunity. Infact Irfan can even bat well down the order taking in to likes of Abhimanyu Mithun and Praveen kumar whom we cant really trust. Hope everything goes well for Zak & Ishanth(if at all they stay physically fit) and create troubles for aussie batsmen. Looking forward to how Ashwin play down under in a real test of his abilities.

  • jacobs54 on December 24, 2011, 3:29 GMT

    @samichennai..well said my friend.I agree with u

  • BravoBravo on December 24, 2011, 2:49 GMT

    All I am wishing that this AUS vs IND test series will not be a boring and one-sided one as we have witnessed a boring and absolutely one-sided ENG vs IND series few months ago. AUS is not the same as it was few years ago, and IND have always been a mediocre team except for the hype. If Mike Hussey and Ricky Ponting can regain their form, AUS will be winning the test series by significant margins. If IND mighty (???) and most feared (???) batting line can put a 300+ score in an inning, they should dream about winning in Tests. For IND, V Laxman and RSD are key factors. SRT may make a century, but it is ironic that IND will loose that match. That is like a colateral for his century. ODI series will definitely go to AUS not to the WC2011 champs. If one believes in ICC ranking, my prediction IND will be coming back home as #3 in test ranking and #4 in ODI ranking. Well event will unfold in less than 48 hrs.

  • zenboomerang on December 24, 2011, 2:33 GMT

    @christy29... Johnson is over-rated... Both Harris & Johnson took 9 wkts each in the Perth Test... Harris has out-performed Johson nearly every time he plays... Harris Test average is 21.37 while Johnson 31.29... Not even in the same league - at best Johnson is a no.3 bowler with a Test average like Siddle & Hilfenhaus... In recent times Harris has been the only no.1 strike bowler in Oz up until the emergence of Pattinson & Cummins...

  • MohaliXI on December 24, 2011, 1:33 GMT

    What people need to realise is that this India side is the same that has been dominating world cricket for 2-3 years. Sure the England your was horrible but India now has their team reassembled. They now their first choice batting line-up with reliable and stable openers in Gauti and Sehwag and that will pay dividends, with Dravid now not essentially playing as an opener due to one of the youngsters (Mukund and co.) getting out in the first 5 overs. Also their bowling is a lot more potent that given credit. Each series the lack of skill/fitness of this attack is questioned yet with make-shift replacements and their apparently horrible attack India has been able to win and stay in the top 2 test nations for some time. Additionally, Australia is not as strong as people are making them out to be. Lets remember that less than a month ago this side was comprehensively smashed by New Zealand. It will be a tight series but if Zaheer and IShant and Yadav stay fit India will win.

  • heathrf1974 on December 24, 2011, 1:20 GMT

    India are slight favourites for mine, however, the fitness of key personnel for both sides could decide the series. If Khan is fit and raring do the go, the Aussies will want to get Harris back ASAP as he is a quality bowler when fit. I'm am still concerned about the batting of Hussey and Ponting and they will need to perform soon or they're gone.

  • on December 24, 2011, 1:16 GMT

    Indians have always won games thru their strengths i.e. batting than bowling.Now batting may suffer in hard bouncing pitches as australia.This cannot be learnt in a day.The Problem with india now is that they have been playing in india including t 20 so much that they might have forgotten to play overseas.They need to unlearn and learn which will take time.So Bowlers need to cover up this .Ishant is a tall guy.If he was fit he could extract bounce and seam movement which would be hard for batsman to play.Bowlers need to really give it the shots in the australia.Especially the seam bowlers.This will balance the weight.

  • Gizza on December 24, 2011, 1:03 GMT

    The great thing about this series is that both teams are quite strong. They are both definitely stronger than 6 months ago which was a low point for both Australia and India. They have gotten rid of useless players (Harbhajan, Johnson, Yuvraj, Hughes) and their younger players are often outplaying the oldies. Good signs for both teams and ominous signs for England later on! New Zealand, Pakistan, West Indies, Zimbabwe and South Africa are also finding new talents (Bracewell and Boult, Cheema, Darren Bravo, Mawoyo, Philander). The top 9 teams which aren't finding much talent at the moment are Sri Lanka and England. England ok they are settled but their peak has gone now while Sri Lanka sadly aren't even at a high point. The latter two will drop down the rankings sharply over the next 3-4 years while the other teams go up and increase the general standard of cricket played during this upcoming period.

  • True_Indian-Cricket_Fan on December 24, 2011, 1:03 GMT

    Great to see both of them fit..we now have a full strength bowling attack.. the aussie batting looks weak..so it won't be a tough task to get 20 wickets..the only threat for Indian team should be Pattinson..he bowled with raw pace & good movement against NZ ..he is a wicket taker & is in great form..he could deny India big totals..anyways,best of luck to Zak & Ishant..hope they bowl well.

  • on December 24, 2011, 1:00 GMT

    Even if Ishant and Zaheer are 100% fit, I doubt if they will be very effective. Zaheer has not played serious cricket since 1st test against England and Ishant was not very effective in two tests he played against West Indies. I bet my dollar on Umesh to take more wickets then both of them Combined. Australia made a blunder by Dropping Khawaja, who is better Australian against Spin with the Exception of Clarke. I believe that Ashwin will perform better against this Australian Batting line up, which probably will not last beyond 1st test. In my view both Zaheer and Ishant will have minimum impact on 1st test.

  • nareshgb1 on December 24, 2011, 0:39 GMT

    useless discussion....Sochin-da will get 100 100 and more - nothing else matters.

  • playitstraight on December 24, 2011, 0:21 GMT

    Zaheer Khan is the key here, not Ishant Sharma, If Zaheer is fit, then he will be a big plus point for India. He is not ranked no. 7 in Test bowling Rankings for nothing, after all. Ishant's spell in 07-08 vs Ricky Ponting was impressive, but times have changed and now both of these guys are not performing. For India, the things to watch out for are: top 6 batsmen, SRT's 100th 100 (hopefully), Zak's bowling form, Ashwin's bowling. Good luck India!!!

  • christy29 on December 24, 2011, 0:19 GMT

    johnson is their best bowler and everyone seems to forget this. he won the perth ashes test single handedly and is brilliant but erratic. he has pace and can swing the ball. im sure my beloved kiwis were thankful johnson wasn't playing that series. he is very good and could become great, and this is a from a kiwi!!!

  • gothetaniwha on December 23, 2011, 22:58 GMT

    Don,t think India has a chance really , Khan is not the same bowler as he was 3/4 years ago slow and unfit ,maybe Sharma might cause Aussie batsmen some problems with his height and bounce but can,t see how India are going to get 20 wickets .Sehwag footwork or lack of it will be exposed big time in Aussie expect 2/0 or 3/0 result .

  • on December 23, 2011, 22:51 GMT

    I think India is better off playing two spinners due to the bad selection of pacers from the selection panel.useless suits will never do justice to indian cricket;we have to have someone who can track raw talent(someone who haven't played too much cricket especially pace bowlers)

  • RauLRS on December 23, 2011, 22:09 GMT

    Well said Karn Mamgain...

  • Nampally on December 23, 2011, 19:24 GMT

    Sidharth, One fact that concerns all Indian fans is wisdom of the Selectors to allow Ishant Sharma to remain with the tram even with strapped ankle!.The tour has not even started yet and its recurrence of old injury. If Dhoni has any plans of playing him in the first test, it will be a huge liability if he goes down injured & India plays one bowler short. ZAK's case is different. He is trying to get back into his peak form after addressing his ailment medically - which Ishant needs to follow.VVS may be projecting optimism but the fans are disappointed with potential wrong decision by Dhoni.Team interest must be above an individual's!. Even at his best Ishant is not that great a bowler.As things stand, Indian batting has to come big to give India a fighting chance.India needs a wicket taking seamer added to give credibility to the bowling on a pace bowlers' track.Ashwin & Ojha can dominate on spinners track but not on MCG.Vinay or Mithun is better than a limping Ishant.Lets get Real!

  • on December 23, 2011, 18:45 GMT

    nets are not really "bowling in the middle during a match". we'll know how *fit* these bowlers are during the test.

  • subbass on December 23, 2011, 18:29 GMT

    Gonna be a great series will be watching closely, if zak stays fit I think they can at least get a draw ! If not, then aussies will be too strong.

  • Liontamer on December 23, 2011, 18:28 GMT

    Well as the saying goes, there is a first time for everything. If Zack and Ishanth stay fit thru the series there is a good chance India will take care of business and give Oz a taste of loosing at home. Besides the usual suspects, I actually think Yadav, Rahul and Rohit will come away with special performances in this series. Sehwag needs to stick around and pace himself to getting 300 each inning and the rest will take care of itself. Ofcourse use Zaheer and Ishanth wisely and keep them loose and fresh. Which means the supporting bowlers have to step up. What I like about this series is, India have nothing to loose and they are focused on taking down the Oz.

    Pitches that help seamer : Sehwag, Gautam, Dravid, Sachin, Lakshman, Rohit/Kholi, Dhoni, Rahul, Zack, Ishanth , Umesh. (3rd seamer must to take pressure off of the big 2 and cover for injuries)

    For Pitches with some turn on them : Pull Ishanth and drop in Ashwin/Ohja.

  • ccriccfan on December 23, 2011, 17:24 GMT

    Guys enough talk, lets see what the results bring. No point in bashing one team or another

  • on December 23, 2011, 17:20 GMT

    try running your singles faster, and not turning down twos. you will put pressure on the bowlers and may score 20 to 30 more runs for the team.

  • on December 23, 2011, 17:18 GMT

    @IK11 - Watson, yes. Johnson? Haha, he's doesn't even make the cut for Aussie national team. Starc, I believe, is a better bowler for some simple reason: he can swing the ball in to the righties, something that Johnson never managed. And Cummins? Gosh, he's played one game and already such hype about him. Sure, he is talented, and can well go on to do well, but one game is too early, bro. He's exciting; that thing is for sure. But too early to assert that he'll trouble the likes of Sachin, Dravid, and Lax - these guys have performed well against better bowlers, as in, all time legends like McGrath, Akram, et al. The series should be a close one, I predict - after all, Australia are Australia, and even with a "rebuilding" team, their bloody-minded determination to win is their biggest strength. I don't know how things went wrong against the poms, but Australia can never be taken for granted.

  • mainul079080 on December 23, 2011, 16:41 GMT

    Australia will definitely win this series.Infact no subcontinent team including India dont have the capacity to win in Australia.Indian fans, you shall hear again the old folk about you-''Tiger at home but cat at abroad''.

  • yvivek on December 23, 2011, 16:40 GMT

    I think india will win this series easly but jack and sharma need to be fit.lots of OZ boys saying that india bowling is week but if our seamers keep themself fit for the entire series this will be one side series in favour of india

  • on December 23, 2011, 16:12 GMT

    Please select a fit and fine bowling attack for Boxing day...just don't want a repeat of whatever went on in England where Dhoni had to take turns from his wicket keeping responsibilities to bowl for India...the scence was pathetic!!! I just don't understand why they keep carry ailing players to overseas time and again..if they don't have bowlers that can be selected for test ... call-off the tour....

  • on December 23, 2011, 16:00 GMT

    At least India can't level the series, retain at number 1 in tests after two years would be a dream, provided they achive...

  • amitgarg78 on December 23, 2011, 15:52 GMT

    @ik11 Mate, Watson, cummins, Johnson aren't exactly world beaters. Cummins has had a good six months; Johnson, a very lousy few years and Watson, while good, doesn't strike fear in noones heart...

    If Ishant and zak stay fit, it shd be fun.

  • g.narsimha on December 23, 2011, 15:02 GMT

    SAJIDALAKKA....MAHMOOD, we are more than enough to take care of our team & it is within our prerogative ,to select our team , instead of feeling too much about our team you better be ready for your great teams next opponant AFGANISTAN ,The cricket between IND& AUS is regarded as high voltage game as the stats proves it ,

  • on December 23, 2011, 14:39 GMT

    @TRAM. You asked.. When was the last time VVS scored.. so to remind you.. In the home series against West Indies,atEden Gardens Kolkata,he made 176*. As for his performance against Australia, he is an absolute tormentor. All the Best Team India.! We have full faith in you!Chak De! \m/!Cricinfo publish.

  • on December 23, 2011, 14:37 GMT

    Seems like Sehwag loves the score 19. Look at his highest scores in different formats of games. Tests-319 On dayers-219 T20-119

    May be a 419 in tests is awaiting him at melborne,Australia.

  • on December 23, 2011, 14:26 GMT

    india need zaher and ishant for win this series

  • on December 23, 2011, 14:25 GMT

    @TRAM why are u comparing vvs to harbhajan. he is the crisis man of india who saved more tests than sachin did for india. he is a true legend and one can never doubt his credentials

  • endoftest on December 23, 2011, 14:16 GMT

    i dont understand what is the problem if someone from south india gets selected (refer to sajil's comments ) . The same people are ok if some average contributor from north india plays. Poor vinay and mithun....i wish south india was a seperate country. atleast we would not have had a mad rush of outside people in our cities.

    Not sure if cric info puts my coimments as they have never done before

  • on December 23, 2011, 14:16 GMT

    Great words by one of the games most humble players, VVS Lazman. Look forward to see him bat. And really look forward to India's 3 frontline bowlers, Zaheer, Yadav and Ishant. I'm positive if they stay fit they will do very well for their country iA. Aaron's injury has left a big gap. Now India don't have a worthy backup fast bowler. Which means that these 3 bowlers will have to perform at their very best and stay fit for the WHOLE series. There's been alot of criticism about Team India's BOWLING line up only. But I'm confident they'll do well iA.

    Chak De India! <3

  • Sano27 on December 23, 2011, 14:13 GMT

    Obviously Zaheer,Ishant & Yadav will be the key bowlers.....Ashwin is a worthy bowler in sydney......waiting for yet another battle between these two sides....sure that it will be a close contest.....!!!

  • rajbal on December 23, 2011, 14:12 GMT

    cant imagine a situation were both zaheer and ishanth break down. It would be hard for india to take 10 wickets in an innings with mithun & vinay. Wonder how they got into the team... They may be stalwarts in domestic scene but doesnot have the pace or guiles to play a test match. In our domestic cricket even joginder sharma & sanjay bangar are nighmares to the batsmen. Somone like a dhawal kulkarni or irfan pathan with their ability to swing the ball would have been ideal in place of mithun & vinay. Wish Varun Aroon also was there.

  • on December 23, 2011, 14:12 GMT

    good to hear that Zaheer is leaner and working on his fitness lot these days.. it should be a good bowling attack if Zak, Ishant and Umesh plays along with Ashwin.

  • IK11 on December 23, 2011, 14:07 GMT

    In the absence of Watson,Cummins & Johnson, India look much stronger and have got perfect opportunity to win a test series in australia for the 1st time. However the age factor of some of the indian senior batsmen might turn out to be negative and australia could take advantage of that to level the series. i predict 1-1 or 2-1 win to india.

  • woodhaven on December 23, 2011, 14:04 GMT

    ishant is very ordinary bowler. dont know why so much fuzz about him. its the indian media.

  • TRAM on December 23, 2011, 13:53 GMT

    When was the last time VVS scored? Are these titles about VVS's opinions showing up to give a feeling that his place is assured? I am seeing comments/articles from players (such as Harbajan) often coinciding with the time when their place in the team is in danger.

  • on December 23, 2011, 13:51 GMT

    @Sajil What is your problem with Sambar? You need to be administered Sambar through all possible orifices. And, get exhilarated.

  • Tigg on December 23, 2011, 13:51 GMT

    3-1 Oz. I think their bowling will be too strong, and Indias too weak.

  • Samychennai on December 23, 2011, 13:40 GMT

    Pakistanis are looking forward Indian defeat than OZ fans. They are loving Indians that much. Cheers guys!!!. Anyhow Aussies can't win the series. Either Indians win or going to be draw the series. Ashwin will be the key for Indian side though Australian pitch not assist for turn. Indian 11 should be Viru,gauti, sachin, lakshman, dravid, dhoni, zak, umesh, ashwin, rahul, ishant/mithun. If India lost first test that dravid and lakshman to be replaced by rohit & kholi. Dhoni must prove his batting ability.

  • SasiGladi on December 23, 2011, 13:38 GMT

    Real cricket fans in any part of the world who has valuable rememberance will never say Indians are not capable to bat in Aus especialy after the year 2000.There is an drastic increase in overseas victory % since 2000. @Sajil Alakkalakath Mahmood - it seems u r so jealous.....we are the only team who tamed the Australians even in thier legends presense made them to face inings defeat in 2003 and in the final series decider match last carrier ininings by Steve waugh saved the series to draw r else the legendary captian would have ended up in series lose in home....We still have the flavour in the batting Sachin, dravid and Lax and they are in prime form..Sachins hight test aggregate score in a year comes on 2010, dravid and lax are in prime form accompanied by huge batting talents .....remember we managed to get innings defeat in 2003 with bowlers like agarkar now Indian bow are far better than tht, so shut up everyone just watch the series all Aussy ego will get thrased....

  • bluebillion on December 23, 2011, 13:28 GMT

    Thanks for the encouraging news Sid.

  • Y2SJ on December 23, 2011, 13:28 GMT

    @Gizza Isnt Praveen not part of the squad?

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on December 23, 2011, 13:19 GMT

    If VVS isn't lying, then it will be 1-0 to 2-0 in India's favour. If he is lying, then it will be 2-0 to 3-0 in favour of Australia. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

  • yoohoo on December 23, 2011, 13:13 GMT

    @Sajil Alakkalakath Mahmood - quite the pessimist aren't you?? I guess you must be one of those blind supporters of Irfan Pathan, even though he has done nothing for 5 years??? He got a lot of chances, and even in the recent game against WI he was not very impressive. The swing was there in the first over and by the second over there was no swing left. All balls were going at 125-129kph. he needs to prove himself to get a chance again (he had got enough chances before).

  • on December 23, 2011, 13:11 GMT

    @ sajil alakka...,they will be fit for this 4 series ..bet?? how abt ur pani puri friends like dhwal kulkarni in oz conditions..:P. if at all there is an injury,straight call up would go to irfan.how can u simply complain abt Kumble..!infact the selection of yadhav & aaron was brought by this selection committee .Please dont blame s.Indians ..infact abhinav mukund deserves more chance than rahane as reserve opener.He is unlucky to miss out on this tour

  • jonesy2 on December 23, 2011, 13:11 GMT

    haha he bowled 4 overs. by right australia should not score less than 500 or 600 runs at least once in this match. should be a cake walk for the aussie batsmen

  • spiritwithin on December 23, 2011, 13:09 GMT

    @Sajil Alakkalakath Mahmood,>>This India will even struggle to defeat Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe>>Whoaaa thats over the top comment dude,india may lose to aus most probably this time but to say that india cant win against zim shows jingoism and nothing more

  • on December 23, 2011, 13:05 GMT

    Watch out Australia . . . these Indian bowlers will be no walk over! Get them India and please win this series to put these Ausies in their place. As long as the latter is ranked 4th or 5th in the world it is fine by me. I want to see the Proteas and India on top of this list of the best test cricketing nations . . . Because I am a South African, SA first then India, but if its the other way around, I won't complain too much.

  • sankar8000 on December 23, 2011, 13:04 GMT

    If Zaheer is fit aussies are going to worry a lot....

  • on December 23, 2011, 13:02 GMT

    Well, i am licking my lips already. Those fans from England know me in this column, and it is another exciting duel on the cards. Aussies, keep up to you reputation of being 'brilliant' hosts.

  • on December 23, 2011, 13:01 GMT

    @Saurabh, I agree that Australia cannot defeat a good team, unfortunately current tem India, playing abroad - does not fall in to that category.

  • on December 23, 2011, 12:43 GMT

    I think it will be 2-1 to Indian. Do not think Australia have the ability anymore to beat good sides!!

  • on December 23, 2011, 12:43 GMT

    gr8 news for indian fans. Hope aussies watch out

  • on December 23, 2011, 12:42 GMT

    Zaheer looks leaner and fitter good for Team india.

  • on December 23, 2011, 12:40 GMT

    India can upset Aus. But Australi will try not to give even a single match to india.

  • on December 23, 2011, 12:39 GMT

    @FrankMeister, it is everybody's guess. This India will even struggle to defeat Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe.

  • Gizza on December 23, 2011, 12:39 GMT

    "Zaheer Khan has come back a leaner man" That's a big positive from India's perspective. He was so fat during the England tour. Mark Taylor, Inzi and Ranatunga are batsmen/slip fielders. Shane Warne is a spinner/slipper. Zaheer Khan on the other hand is a pace/swing bowler and outfielder. Overweight pace bowlers should be DROPPED IMMEDIATELY. When he was bowling, it was 10 K's less than what he usually bowls (not that fast anyway) and his spells were shorter with more huff and puff. Having a fast bowler with a big belly was probably the most embarrassing thing for India during their tour of England. Also Sidharth, not quite sure that Zaheer, Ishant and Yadav and India's first three bowling choices. Yadav is an exciting prospect but I would slot in Praveen then Yadav and then Aaron (big gap then for the rest like Pathan, Mithun, Vinay).

  • on December 23, 2011, 12:38 GMT

    these two will learn from zaheer and come as better bowlers...best of luck

  • RameshSubramaniam on December 23, 2011, 12:37 GMT

    There are so much talked about Australian quicks. Pattinson - May be a good bowler but need to be tested against the quality opposition. I dont think any of new zealand top 6 will be picked in Indian team. Then Siddle - two months back, he was walk in the park. Hilf/Starc - Coming back to the team after long time.Iis not over rated saying Aus quicks Vs Indian batsmen? If Zaheer and Ishant are fit, I am not sure there is much differnce in the quality of bowling between two teams when Ashwin adn Lyon also included in the comparision?

  • FrankMeister on December 23, 2011, 12:21 GMT

    Finally an article on the progress of these series-winning Indian bowlers... no doubt its gonna be like 3-0 or 4-0. Watch this reply after the series.

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  • FrankMeister on December 23, 2011, 12:21 GMT

    Finally an article on the progress of these series-winning Indian bowlers... no doubt its gonna be like 3-0 or 4-0. Watch this reply after the series.

  • RameshSubramaniam on December 23, 2011, 12:37 GMT

    There are so much talked about Australian quicks. Pattinson - May be a good bowler but need to be tested against the quality opposition. I dont think any of new zealand top 6 will be picked in Indian team. Then Siddle - two months back, he was walk in the park. Hilf/Starc - Coming back to the team after long time.Iis not over rated saying Aus quicks Vs Indian batsmen? If Zaheer and Ishant are fit, I am not sure there is much differnce in the quality of bowling between two teams when Ashwin adn Lyon also included in the comparision?

  • on December 23, 2011, 12:38 GMT

    these two will learn from zaheer and come as better bowlers...best of luck

  • Gizza on December 23, 2011, 12:39 GMT

    "Zaheer Khan has come back a leaner man" That's a big positive from India's perspective. He was so fat during the England tour. Mark Taylor, Inzi and Ranatunga are batsmen/slip fielders. Shane Warne is a spinner/slipper. Zaheer Khan on the other hand is a pace/swing bowler and outfielder. Overweight pace bowlers should be DROPPED IMMEDIATELY. When he was bowling, it was 10 K's less than what he usually bowls (not that fast anyway) and his spells were shorter with more huff and puff. Having a fast bowler with a big belly was probably the most embarrassing thing for India during their tour of England. Also Sidharth, not quite sure that Zaheer, Ishant and Yadav and India's first three bowling choices. Yadav is an exciting prospect but I would slot in Praveen then Yadav and then Aaron (big gap then for the rest like Pathan, Mithun, Vinay).

  • on December 23, 2011, 12:39 GMT

    @FrankMeister, it is everybody's guess. This India will even struggle to defeat Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe.

  • on December 23, 2011, 12:40 GMT

    India can upset Aus. But Australi will try not to give even a single match to india.

  • on December 23, 2011, 12:42 GMT

    Zaheer looks leaner and fitter good for Team india.

  • on December 23, 2011, 12:43 GMT

    gr8 news for indian fans. Hope aussies watch out

  • on December 23, 2011, 12:43 GMT

    I think it will be 2-1 to Indian. Do not think Australia have the ability anymore to beat good sides!!

  • on December 23, 2011, 13:01 GMT

    @Saurabh, I agree that Australia cannot defeat a good team, unfortunately current tem India, playing abroad - does not fall in to that category.