December 20, 2007

More than a Test series

It isn't just the Border-Gavaskar trophy that's at stake: Captain Kumble holds the future of the long game in his hands.
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The Indian tour of Australia that's just gotten under way, is historically significant for all sorts of reasons. It's important for India for the same reason as every other tour of Australian has been: it offers us the opportunity to do what we have never done before — beat Australia at home. It has been nearly sixty years since we started playing Test matches against the Australians and to not have won an Australian rubber even once, is, well, feeble. And it's no use saying we nearly beat them the last time round: 'nearly won' doesn't show up in Wisden.

It's significant for Australia because Ricky Ponting's men have a real chance of breaking the record for most consecutive Test wins set by Steve Waugh's Australians. Waugh won sixteen Test matches in a row and the current team took their tally to fourteen by destroying the Sri Lankans over two Test matches. We're going to play four Test matches against them, so theoretically the Australians could have notched up seventeen in a row by the time we get to the final Test at the Adelaide Oval.

I don't think that will happen but given this Australian team it's within the bounds of possibility. If it comes to pass (and as fans of an Indian touring team we should always consider worst-case possibilities) international Test cricket might have to consider letting Australia field a second team at the Test level if only to allow other teams the satisfaction of beating an Australian side.

Even the second-worst possibility, losing the series 2-0 or 3-0, will mark a new low for Test cricket. Never has any team dominated Test cricket as completely as the Australians have, not even the West Indies under Lloyd. The fact that the present Australian team is competing against its predecessor for the record of most consecutive Test wins speaks for itself. One-sidedness in Test cricket isn't best illustrated by Bangladesh playing, say, India; it is increasingly illustrated by Australia on one side and Country X on the other.

There's only one team in the world that has played Tests against Australia in the twenty-first century on roughly level terms and that team is India. The last three Test series between the two teams have been split: one won, one lost and one drawn. Yes, I know, we would have won the last rubber we played in Australia 2-1 if we had closed out the Sydney Test, but, like I said, nearly isn't a number.

Still, the fact that India has been competitive over time is important not just for the morale of Indian cricket but for the Test cricket as a competitive sport in general. You could argue that England's Ashes victory was a bigger event on cricket's Richter Scale, given the history of that rivalry, but a country as consistently mediocre as England was never going to lead a sustained challenge to Australian hegemony and so it proved. There was a time when South Africa briefly threatened to take Australia on at its own game—fast bowling, fielding, aggression—but that was years ago and the robotic brittleness of Graeme Smith's team has been brutally exposed by the Australians.

That leaves Kumble's men gingerly holding the torch for the Rest of the World. What are their chances? If we overcome, as we did on our last tour of Australia, the jitters of the first Test and manage to draw it, I think we have a reasonable chance of splitting the series. Draw at the MCG, win at the SCG, lose at the WACA and bring out the batting heroics to draw the last Test in Adelaide. That's the sanguine but sane scenario. The insanely optimistic one is that we win at Sydney and don't lose at Perth. Everything else remains equal and we win 1-0.

It all hinges on Anil Kumble winning the toss at Melbourne and electing to bat. The two men who'll walk out to open the innings for India could any one of three combinations: Wasim Jaffer with Karthik, Dravid or Sehwag. I think Kumble will open the series with Karthik because Sehwag would be too large a gamble for the first game and forcing Dravid to open to accommodate Yuvraj would feel a bit like pushing your soundest batsmen to open in conditions where you're likely to need his solidity lower in the order. Unless Dravid volunteers to do the job; as I write this, he has opened with Jaffer against Victoria and is doing well. If we win the toss the Indian line-up has the opportunity to make a substantial score and scrap for a draw. If we lose the toss and field, we'll be a match down by the time we get to Sydney, because the Indian team has a scarily fragile bowling attack.

Harbhajan will likely play only the one Test, the match in Sydney, so for most of the time, India will be served by Kumble and three seamers. Three of them are left-arm fast-medium seamers. The two who aren't, Ishant Sharma and Pankaj Singh, are frighteningly green. Either Kumble and Zaheer, the two senior bowlers, turn on the magic with a regularity that's unfair to expect, or one of the support bowlers turns out to be a revelation. If neither happens I can't see how we're going to bowl this Australian batting card out twice with the bowlers we have. And if we come in to bat second with the kind of scores the Australians raised against Sri Lanka, say 600 for 5, our golden oldies will eventually buckle under the strain of playing catch-up.

So we need lots of luck with the coin, consistency from Jaffer, several last hurrahs from the Quartet, inspiration from Ishant Sharma (or someone like him) and umpires who aren't over-awed by the greatest team in the world. Otherwise Australia will get to eighteen on the trot, Phil Jaques could be confirmed as the greatest opening batsman since Gavaskar and Mike Hussey might, in fact, turn out to be a left-handed Bradman. It'll be the end of Test cricket as we know it. So it isn't just the Border-Gavaskar trophy that he's vying for: Captain Kumble holds the future of the long game in his hands.

Mukul Kesavan is a writer based in New Delhi

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew G on January 6, 2008, 11:52 GMT

    Interesting article - but India are now 2nil down. I am dissapointed that Dravid was given out the way he was, (his bat was no where near the ball). India need to go radical to square the series. Drop Jaffer for I Pathan, and make him opener with Dravid. Reason being Gavaskar aside there has never been a sucessful Indian opener consistantly in Australia, (Sehwag could be added to the list but he would have to play well in the next 2 tests). Pathan would then mean that India would have 3 seamers & 2 spinners + part timers like Tendulkar & Ganguly. I rate India no chance at Perth - if the WACA is returning to its former status as the fastest pitch on the planet, (concrete strips excluded). Adelaide is a big opportunity - providing luck goes INDIAs way over the course of 5 days.

    If Australia win 4 nil where will their next draw/loss come from?

  • ash on December 31, 2007, 0:53 GMT

    Australia vs. India - First Test

    I would like to highlight the over before lunch on 29th Dec 07.

    Channel 9's camera's caught Stuart Clarke picking out the seam of the ball with his fingernail. Surrounded by Brett Lee and Andrew Symonds!(Hmm...interesting....wonder if that's why he was so successful....)

    There was a nervous murmur as the commentary team went dead at that moment for a few nervous seconds.....only then the stupid cameraman realised his folly and cut that frame out.

    Guess Aussies are above the law, and don't tamper balls and "there will be no investigation....."

    I saw, and 12 other people in the room saw this including the kids.....crying shame....they don't need to do this to beat the Indians!!!

  • krsna on December 30, 2007, 23:18 GMT

    yes with out sreesanth this attack looks weak, but they said the same thing (myself included) about the england series, how are we going to take 20 wks, without patel, but rp h came good. i said it way back before the 20/20 WC, india will win the test series against australia and we will, i back sharma too come good, with pathan keeping it tight, drop rp and bhaji, in comes pathan and sharma.

    melbourne = yes aussies have won

    sydney = india win

    perth = india win (yes u thin i am krazy, u wait and see)

    adelaide = draw

    India win Border Gavasker Series 1-2

    --------------------------------------------------

    p.s - australia is scared of team india, was anyone alse laughing @ ricky ponting's PATHETIC tactics of bowling way outside off stump, i am not talking about bowling channel, on or just outside off stump, i am talking about them bowling way outside off stump, two and ahalf foot outside off.

    u got away with it @ da MCG, it's not gonna work again though.

  • krsna on December 30, 2007, 23:18 GMT

    yes with out sreesanth this attack looks weak, but they said the same thing (myself included) about the england series, how are we going to take 20 wks, without patel, but rp h came good. i said it way back before the 20/20 WC, india will win the test series against australia and we will, i back sharma too come good, with pathan keeping it tight, drop rp and bhaji, in comes pathan and sharma.

    melbourne = yes aussies have won

    sydney = india win

    perth = india win (yes u thin i am krazy, u wait and see)

    adelaide = draw

    India win Border Gavasker Series 1-2

    --------------------------------------------------

    p.s - australia is scared of team india, was anyone alse laughing @ ricky ponting's PATHETIC tactics of bowling way outside off stump, i am not talking about bowling channel, on or just outside off stump, i am talking about them bowling way outside off stump, two and ahalf foot outside off.

    u got away with it @ da MCG, it's not gonna work again though.

  • Adam on December 29, 2007, 13:41 GMT

    India are certainly looking like the second best team in the world at the moment! A 337 run defeat.

    Even mediocre England only lost by 277 runs in the first test of the 2006 Ashes, and we were facing Glen McGrath and Shane Warne.

    Surely all the jingoistic Indian fans are starting to realize that the hype just doesn't match the reality.

    Final question - what do India not have that teams like Australia, England and South Africa have? Answer: young batsmen who have already demonstrated the promise to replace their over-thirties team mates. When Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman are gone, India will be in sooo much trouble.

  • TonyP on December 28, 2007, 0:39 GMT

    There's nothing wrong with supporting your team but that support has to be tempered by realism. I'm Australian but Australia can lose any given match in any given format - they are human. They may under-perform on any given day but overall they consistently try to do their best.

    I think that that is something that isn't being emphasised enough. Even if India lose 4-0 (which I DON'T think will happen), as long as they put in their best effort who can complain? Australia lost the Ashes but they used that lesson to strengthen and improve. Losing is not so bad, it happens to everyone, and I'm not saying anyone should be happy when it happens. The sin is not trying your absolute hardest.

    Trying to insist your team win every time is unrealistic & counter-productive, it encourages players to worry about things beyond their control rather than focus on their own game.

  • Mark Choong on December 26, 2007, 11:42 GMT

    Cricket Australia would not take the risk of establishing a "2nd" Test Team. Two reasons. The first, most aussies would more than likely cheer the "2nd" Team than the first if they were to meet. Strange but true and has happened in the past. The "2nd" Team would have a very good chance of beating the first as the "intimidation" factor just does not exist

  • One Size Fitz Hall on December 25, 2007, 6:06 GMT

    Manish Ghosh,

    Surely you realise that India is the second best team in the world, although they do underacheive. Maybe you should replace Welsh rugby etc with Australian rugby, Spanish/Argentinian football and Rafael Nadal. These examples are way more accurate than the ones you gave.

  • Chase on December 24, 2007, 18:20 GMT

    Teece, it's just you as you can see. Thank you for proving my point!

  • Manish Ghosh on December 24, 2007, 13:25 GMT

    2-0 to India

    There is a pleasure in supporting a perennial underdog that only those who support those teams know - Indian cricket, Welsh rugby, Scottish football, New Zealand tennis...occasionally when they do achieve something - remember Chris Lewis at Wimbledon, India 2001 and 2007 (20/20) the feeling does not compare to success in Australian cricket or Brazilian football or Roger Federer.

    My feeling is rather that this support - for the not-so-successful - a Manchester City circa 1990s, - is a purer and finer thing than simply supporting the best - a Manchester United at a similar point in time. It is not rational or logical and bringing rational analysis to these issues obscures the purity.

  • Andrew G on January 6, 2008, 11:52 GMT

    Interesting article - but India are now 2nil down. I am dissapointed that Dravid was given out the way he was, (his bat was no where near the ball). India need to go radical to square the series. Drop Jaffer for I Pathan, and make him opener with Dravid. Reason being Gavaskar aside there has never been a sucessful Indian opener consistantly in Australia, (Sehwag could be added to the list but he would have to play well in the next 2 tests). Pathan would then mean that India would have 3 seamers & 2 spinners + part timers like Tendulkar & Ganguly. I rate India no chance at Perth - if the WACA is returning to its former status as the fastest pitch on the planet, (concrete strips excluded). Adelaide is a big opportunity - providing luck goes INDIAs way over the course of 5 days.

    If Australia win 4 nil where will their next draw/loss come from?

  • ash on December 31, 2007, 0:53 GMT

    Australia vs. India - First Test

    I would like to highlight the over before lunch on 29th Dec 07.

    Channel 9's camera's caught Stuart Clarke picking out the seam of the ball with his fingernail. Surrounded by Brett Lee and Andrew Symonds!(Hmm...interesting....wonder if that's why he was so successful....)

    There was a nervous murmur as the commentary team went dead at that moment for a few nervous seconds.....only then the stupid cameraman realised his folly and cut that frame out.

    Guess Aussies are above the law, and don't tamper balls and "there will be no investigation....."

    I saw, and 12 other people in the room saw this including the kids.....crying shame....they don't need to do this to beat the Indians!!!

  • krsna on December 30, 2007, 23:18 GMT

    yes with out sreesanth this attack looks weak, but they said the same thing (myself included) about the england series, how are we going to take 20 wks, without patel, but rp h came good. i said it way back before the 20/20 WC, india will win the test series against australia and we will, i back sharma too come good, with pathan keeping it tight, drop rp and bhaji, in comes pathan and sharma.

    melbourne = yes aussies have won

    sydney = india win

    perth = india win (yes u thin i am krazy, u wait and see)

    adelaide = draw

    India win Border Gavasker Series 1-2

    --------------------------------------------------

    p.s - australia is scared of team india, was anyone alse laughing @ ricky ponting's PATHETIC tactics of bowling way outside off stump, i am not talking about bowling channel, on or just outside off stump, i am talking about them bowling way outside off stump, two and ahalf foot outside off.

    u got away with it @ da MCG, it's not gonna work again though.

  • krsna on December 30, 2007, 23:18 GMT

    yes with out sreesanth this attack looks weak, but they said the same thing (myself included) about the england series, how are we going to take 20 wks, without patel, but rp h came good. i said it way back before the 20/20 WC, india will win the test series against australia and we will, i back sharma too come good, with pathan keeping it tight, drop rp and bhaji, in comes pathan and sharma.

    melbourne = yes aussies have won

    sydney = india win

    perth = india win (yes u thin i am krazy, u wait and see)

    adelaide = draw

    India win Border Gavasker Series 1-2

    --------------------------------------------------

    p.s - australia is scared of team india, was anyone alse laughing @ ricky ponting's PATHETIC tactics of bowling way outside off stump, i am not talking about bowling channel, on or just outside off stump, i am talking about them bowling way outside off stump, two and ahalf foot outside off.

    u got away with it @ da MCG, it's not gonna work again though.

  • Adam on December 29, 2007, 13:41 GMT

    India are certainly looking like the second best team in the world at the moment! A 337 run defeat.

    Even mediocre England only lost by 277 runs in the first test of the 2006 Ashes, and we were facing Glen McGrath and Shane Warne.

    Surely all the jingoistic Indian fans are starting to realize that the hype just doesn't match the reality.

    Final question - what do India not have that teams like Australia, England and South Africa have? Answer: young batsmen who have already demonstrated the promise to replace their over-thirties team mates. When Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman are gone, India will be in sooo much trouble.

  • TonyP on December 28, 2007, 0:39 GMT

    There's nothing wrong with supporting your team but that support has to be tempered by realism. I'm Australian but Australia can lose any given match in any given format - they are human. They may under-perform on any given day but overall they consistently try to do their best.

    I think that that is something that isn't being emphasised enough. Even if India lose 4-0 (which I DON'T think will happen), as long as they put in their best effort who can complain? Australia lost the Ashes but they used that lesson to strengthen and improve. Losing is not so bad, it happens to everyone, and I'm not saying anyone should be happy when it happens. The sin is not trying your absolute hardest.

    Trying to insist your team win every time is unrealistic & counter-productive, it encourages players to worry about things beyond their control rather than focus on their own game.

  • Mark Choong on December 26, 2007, 11:42 GMT

    Cricket Australia would not take the risk of establishing a "2nd" Test Team. Two reasons. The first, most aussies would more than likely cheer the "2nd" Team than the first if they were to meet. Strange but true and has happened in the past. The "2nd" Team would have a very good chance of beating the first as the "intimidation" factor just does not exist

  • One Size Fitz Hall on December 25, 2007, 6:06 GMT

    Manish Ghosh,

    Surely you realise that India is the second best team in the world, although they do underacheive. Maybe you should replace Welsh rugby etc with Australian rugby, Spanish/Argentinian football and Rafael Nadal. These examples are way more accurate than the ones you gave.

  • Chase on December 24, 2007, 18:20 GMT

    Teece, it's just you as you can see. Thank you for proving my point!

  • Manish Ghosh on December 24, 2007, 13:25 GMT

    2-0 to India

    There is a pleasure in supporting a perennial underdog that only those who support those teams know - Indian cricket, Welsh rugby, Scottish football, New Zealand tennis...occasionally when they do achieve something - remember Chris Lewis at Wimbledon, India 2001 and 2007 (20/20) the feeling does not compare to success in Australian cricket or Brazilian football or Roger Federer.

    My feeling is rather that this support - for the not-so-successful - a Manchester City circa 1990s, - is a purer and finer thing than simply supporting the best - a Manchester United at a similar point in time. It is not rational or logical and bringing rational analysis to these issues obscures the purity.

  • Shankar on December 24, 2007, 7:10 GMT

    Of late India-Australia clashes in cricket have generated a lot of interest and I think it is to do with the intensity of cricket played by both teams. The Australian batting and Indian batting line ups are good and will be strong areas. An improved Lee, an accurate Clark and the tearaway Tait makes up for Aussie bowling line up. I do not want to underestimate Zaheer, R.P and Kumble. I anticipate a well contested series and let us enjoy the cricket that the players will offer us. As for bloggers who talk about nationality, racism, education, culture as a sporting nation etc, please keep it away. When will this stereotyping stop. Just enjoy the game guys.

    Best of luck to both teams and just give us "entertainment" a la Lara

  • Sunil Aziz on December 24, 2007, 6:09 GMT

    The biggest challenge for this Indian team is the combination of 11 that should play. There is no doubt that Yuvaraj is in form, but it will be foolish to distroy the entire team combination for the sake of individual performances.India should paly sehwag for the ist test, before the entire team morale is destroyed and go with the best combination rather than playing 2 wicket keepers, making your prime batsman a make shift opener or asking a bowler to open the innings. Play Yuvaraj, but look for other sensible options.

  • surya on December 24, 2007, 2:58 GMT

    Let's just talk about cricket folks.

    Theoritically and statistically aussies are strong, same as 2003-2004 but Indians got leveled with them then. As an Indian optimistically I hope same thing to happen.

    Let's games begin and we enjoy it! Don't stress up others. Cheers to all cricket fans.

  • Teece on December 23, 2007, 10:30 GMT

    Is it just me, or does Chase sound like an email scam? I am the Nigerian deputy finance minister... It's time to re-assess this 'racist Aussie' motif some posters are so fond of wheeling out. Australia recently ousted former prime minister John Howard in favour of Kevin Rudd. Howard constructed racist policies and the fact that he's been rejected, and the rise of the anti-racist Greens, speak volumes. Pockets of racism poison Australia stadiums as they do all stadia, but Cricket Australia is the board working the hardest to do something about it. You can be sure nobody will get away with monkey chants at the SCG, and the ground authority won't serve up some half-baked nonsense about religion if they try. Consider what's being asked of Australian fans. We provide cricket with its best crowds, but we're arrogant if we're proud of our team. We applaud opposition success til our hands are raw, but it's never enough. We have to feel dutifully embarrassed about success, instead of proud.

  • Chase on December 23, 2007, 8:06 GMT

    I have never seen such blog bashing ever! How shameful. After reading some of these blogs, I have come to realise how arrogant and self-righteous some Aussies really are. No wonder why so many of you guys are hated all over in the cricket world. I also wonder how many of you have actually played cricket at the top level and think you have the right to bash each other.

    FYI, hor whoever thinks Im an Indian, Im actually from Trinidad and Tobago and play for the national team. I wish India and Australia the best in the upcoming series. But Trinidad is supporting India.

    Stick to cricket guys...

  • Michael on December 23, 2007, 0:02 GMT

    "Balaaji They abuse,they insult and nobody questions their integrity.After all Australia is a land of convicts and have no culture.I hope India demolishes Australia and silences the barbarian crowds in Australia."

    Ha ha... the only thing funnier than all the boring comments about Australians being racist is that most Indians who visit these blogs are too stupid(educational society? not apparent here) to cover there own prejudices when trying to throw mud. Seriously guys, you're an embarrassment to your nation, but mostly yourselves. I think its a shame the administrators of these blogs allow and even and encourage this sort of behaviour. I suppose they do their job if they work all you saintly Indians up into a frenzy of your own self-righteousness. Must be getting crowded under that carpet you sweep all your own problems under.

  • Ash on December 22, 2007, 21:55 GMT

    Fox: "However Australia will bat India into submission in the first test, Australias top 7 are the best 7 batsmen in the world"

    I guess the Aussies have their own world rankings now!

  • vas on December 22, 2007, 21:45 GMT

    I assure you Souvik there is no confusion on my part. I've accepted the country that has given me my livelihood, and it's fair that I support it in return.

    Bribery will continue to be a factor as long as the BCCI places finances above cricket. Given the dead pitches constantly produced, you can only assume it is a readymade way to ensure the matches go on for the full five days. Now tell me, who does that please more, spectators wanting a contest or the TV stations that will essentially get all the profitability of five days of cricket?

    That is what I mean. The BCCI seem all to ready to compromise the integrity of the game in favour of a few bucks. As a result, the game suffers and the Indian team suffers. And I believe the onus then falls on the Indian team to turn around to the BCCI and tell them to create wickets with more life to try and spark the game up. Be honest here, how much would India have gained out of the PAK series other than a few batsmen boosting the averages?

  • shamoni8 on December 22, 2007, 21:34 GMT

    lol at people sayin how we're going to get white-washed & 4-0 & everythin. they will all disappear like da paki's who claimed t20 wuz made for afridi.

    i wont make predictions or say dat india is gonna win it all. i juss wanna let da games begin!

  • andrew schulz on December 22, 2007, 5:56 GMT

    Great comment about England. Simon and Jon responded through rose-coloured glasses. 'Mediocre' is probably too positive a word to describe England's performance since 2005 Ashes. But it is not possible that Jaques will establish himself as the best opener since Gavaskar. For one, it is too early in his career. For another, Hayden has already established himself as a better opener than Gavaskar.

  • GuruBrahma on December 22, 2007, 5:41 GMT

    "umpires who aren't over-awed by the greatest team in the world" - ha ha ha. Trust Mukul to rub it in ever so unobtrusively.

  • Sudhir on December 22, 2007, 3:34 GMT

    Indian should enter the cauldron with a positive "i am gonna win all" attitude, not "i am going to win at this venue and lose in the other and draw in the next" crap. What if they get screwed royally in the test they are supposed to win or draw? They will get screwed in the rest of the series as well. Just have self belief in their abilities and perform. Good luck India.

  • romy on December 22, 2007, 3:26 GMT

    even with bats wider than the three stumps , indians will be bowled out for maybe less than 200 in all 8 innings.

  • Chris on December 22, 2007, 1:12 GMT

    "You being an Aussie are calling others arrogant? I am stunned by the level of hypocracy."

    Dear Grud. I find the above post a little offensive. I am an Aussie. Does that make me arrogant by default. Please your stereotypes at the doorstep.

    I don't think you're a fanatical idiot but comments like the above are best avoided.

    Good luck to your team in the upcoming series.

  • Mukund Tumkur on December 21, 2007, 20:13 GMT

    We Indians like to blow our trumpets like nobody else. England has beaten Australia in the most competitive cricket series , but you don't see people like Roebuck going jingoistic and making disparaging comments about other countries like you have about England

  • rinku on December 21, 2007, 20:11 GMT

    How pathetic your lives must be if they revolve around the Indian cricket team. Dilip, you've put it very well.

  • damodar on December 21, 2007, 20:08 GMT

    You sound as if the rest of the world is waiting with bated breath for India to beat Australia. Rest assured Mukul, only Indians, not even Australians, care about the series. Dilip;s spot on, there are far more interesting sports for the rest of the world, including Australia.

  • rajiv on December 21, 2007, 19:49 GMT

    dilip's right. we have a population about 10 times bigger than england's. we have no right to talk about "england's mediocrity"

  • dilip on December 21, 2007, 19:49 GMT

    I wonder if our cricket fanatics who boast of "educational society" have heard of non cricketing aussies like Patrick White or Peter Weir.Our new found flag bearing is disgusting.Corporate honchos!Is that this once upon a time great civilisation being reduced to.I wish we could do with some literacy on your blog.Mukul,your dumbing down is starting to get on ones nerves.How cynical can you get by not vetting such rubbish

  • Grud on December 21, 2007, 18:59 GMT

    TonyP: If people like Grud would rather talk about finance and belittle Australia than address the issue, then it will persist and in all likelihood worsen.

    Go back and read....not a single comment from me about finances....60% or 1 billion is 600M....srry abt tht. But I do know we have problems with the BCCI, but u should note that the players are world class no matter what. we are a much better touring side than before and u must also note that we were the only team whos been challenging the GR8 Aussies for a while since you exposed the SA. All I am saying is India in the past had given more surprises than any other team and is I wouldn't call it an upset if either teams wins. Although it would be a upset if its either a 4-0 or a 3-0 in either team's favor.

  • Manoj on December 21, 2007, 18:48 GMT

    I have a good feeling about this tour (I am Indian). The australians look a lot more human this time around. And humans are beatable. They look as if they have been hurt psychologically in the last ODI series in india (which they won!). Even while the Srilankans had just arrived in their country all we heard was talk about India and how they will get us.

    And we all know its all in the mind. At their best , both teams will probably draw all 4 matches or split them 2-2. So this time around we have a chance. Aussies are defeated more easily when they can be bullied mentally. Its what Dada did. Besides they seem weary of winning. This one is probably ours. Hope it doesn't end up even.

  • souvik on December 21, 2007, 18:38 GMT

    Vas: That viewpoint regarding how Indian cricket works is very typical for ABCDs: "Australia Bred Confused Desi". :-) Like I said, Abhijit Kale did not quite make it to the side despite his sinecure efforts. BCCI administration and Indian cricket hinges more on the politics of power grabs and media deals. The money to be made there far outweighs any potential bribes which would undermine the very source of that huge income. Yes, BCCI officials are mean, selfish individuals, with a very jaundiced view of the best interests of Indian cricket, but stupid like Hansie Cronje, they are not.

  • Dilip on December 21, 2007, 18:01 GMT

    Mr Kesavan, England may be mediocre, but that's deliberately so - they have discarded cricket to the gutter. They would much rather pursue more interesting and important sports - football and formula 1. Keeping in mind the passion for the game in our country, India should be world-beaters many times over and look where we are!!!

  • jon on December 21, 2007, 17:47 GMT

    Interesting article but 'England have been consistently mediocre'? I don't think we're any more mediocre than India or Sri Lanka

  • Captain Swing on December 21, 2007, 16:29 GMT

    I don't think the future of the 5 day game is in any danger if India are whitewashed. Indians don't go to Test matches anyway. Maybe the tickets are too expensive or the grounds' facilities are too primitive, but Test cricket would die out if it was left to Indians.

    I felt that calling England consistently mediocre cast rather a slur upon the many Indian teams that have taken such a hammering when touring England.

    oh, and I think other posters underestimate Zaheer Khan - he is a class seamer.

    Finally, I used to support India until I read this blog. Now, if they win a single game I feel real pain.

  • Amit on December 21, 2007, 16:10 GMT

    One must expect there to be an unfathomable chasm in the fielding levels of the Australians and the Indians.

    I saw how the Australians fielded against Sri Lanka in the just concluded Sri Lankan tour. They dropped catches like hot pies. Fielding is not going to set them apart anymore.

  • dadarules on December 21, 2007, 15:16 GMT

    the indian fans seem to b really optimistic this time.....and i don get what is stupid harvajan gonna get outta verbal attack.......he shud try to translate it into wickets...ohh i forgot da hez harldy gonna get a chance to bowl.........da indians who think verbal war may win them da real battle.....they r mistaken.....What they shud do is to keep silent n show it on da field......i hope dada settles some score in dis tour n may b his brillance with bat can get things started for india......one thing yuvraj and kartik gotta play....the people who came up with da idea to play the wall at opening slot know nothing about what it takes to b even competitive against da oz....jafor n kartik gotta b da ultimate opening choice...shewag may get a chance if kartik fails....but no dravid on the top.dat ud b suicisdal....

  • TonyP on December 21, 2007, 15:04 GMT

    Grud - 60% of 1 billion is 600 million not 60.

    Regardless, on the basis of wealth of talent & financial strength of the national cricket board, India should be the no. 1 team in the world & enjoy enormous depth in all departments of the game. This is not however what we observe in reality. Therefore, something in Indian cricket is going wrong. If people like Grud would rather talk about finance and belittle Australia than address the issue, then it will persist and in all likelihood worsen.

    I hope India do their best, and I think they will, they're great cricketers.

    However, Australia are the home team, they're missing fewer first-choice players, their batting line-up is stable and in form, and they're the number one team in the world.

    India have had little preparation in Australian conditions, are more depleted by injury, are having to re-jig their batting order, and are lower-ranked on the basis of past performance.

    If both teams play to their potential Australia should win.

  • Night Rider on December 21, 2007, 14:47 GMT

    Hello..Only 5 more days to go. Lets see them on the green. No permutations and combinations please.

    Waiting for the very first ball to be bowled....

    Eagerly, Night Rider.

  • Balaaji on December 21, 2007, 13:57 GMT

    Last time around India should have won,but for hopeless umpiring.Umpires do tend to favour Australia and that is abig reason why they are dominating world cricket.Man to man India is as good as Australia.Our middle order could demolish the depleted Australian bowling attack,given that it is worth close to 40000 runs.I do agree that our bowling attack is not the best but on its day it could surprise quite a few. However our fielding is a major weak point and we have to hold on to our catches if we are to sustain the competetive edge.I have been to Australia quite a few times and have also witnessed a couple of cricket matches at the Adelaide Oval and do believe that Australian crowds are the worst.They abuse,they insult and nobody questions their integrity.After all Australia is a land of convicts and have no culture.I hope India demolishes Australia and silences the barbarian crowds in Australia. JAI HIND.

  • shashidhara on December 21, 2007, 13:57 GMT

    looking at the way indians are playing test cricket, i an confident that we will play better cricket and may come close at winning the series. only thing we want to do is play aggresive cricket and not to keep quite and surrender to the verbal tactics of the australians, being great team they don't behave like one. with anil kumble as captian who is hardworking and thinking i am confident that we can bring home the Gavaskar- Border trophy. we are the only team which deserve to win the trophy.

  • vas on December 21, 2007, 13:32 GMT

    Posted by souvik Do you have any idea how much a first class player in India earns even after the current "ICL induced" boost? It's not even a tenth of the test player's check. I don't know of even one player in this team who had to bribe his way to selection.

    Point noted, but a few things. Youre wrong about no bribery (Abhijit Kale is 1 example), and Id be really concerned if someone in the current squad is slipping a few bucks in the selectors pockets.

    My point was to illustrate the difference of the selectorial and management policy and what an impact it makes to the team. A good indication would be to compare how many players have used in the last decade (since Aus has been publicly acknowledged as the best).

    Nice touch with the Shaw quote, but you're preaching to a person born in Bombay with Indian parents. I support Aus as I have lived in Sydney since I was 4. When it comes to choosing between hard work Aussies or brilliant and undisciplined Indians, it isnt a hard choice...

  • Fox on December 21, 2007, 13:09 GMT

    Its extremely optimistic to think India have any chance in this series. They have some good bats and Australias attacks is the weakest in a decade. However Australia will bat India into submission in the first test, Australias top 7 are the best 7 batsmen in the world ( save Jaques for now). India must not fall into the same trap as every other side that tours, that is bowling after winning the toss on the first morning and refusing to go for the kill during the rare moments Australia slip up. Brett Lee will have to be good for Australia but i still think that everyone has forgotten Stuart Clark, hes a world class bowler. I wish the Indians the best of luck and i hope they give us a run for our money. 2-0 to Australia.

  • OGS on December 21, 2007, 11:33 GMT

    A very downbeat blog Mukul, but I do want to correct this notion of "nearly winning the last series." India escaped with a draw in the first test in Brisbane courtesy of rain and will need plenty of it to draw the first test in Melbourne. The second and third tests were terrific matches split one each, but India did not come close to winning in Sydney. Australia still had four wickets in hand less than 100 behind India, with Katich well placed to score a century when time ran out. India could not push for victory strongly enough in that match and will again suffer this fate in 2007/08. Ironically India played better as a team in the Melbourne test they lost, than in Sydney or even Adelaide where they won. People are quick to talk about Dravid's masterful innings, but few remember Agarkar's outstanding spell of swing bowling in the second innings. Dravid's double ton only brought India back into the game, Agarkar allowed them to win it. Don't expect too much swing this time!

  • SUKY DHESI.... on December 21, 2007, 11:29 GMT

    India..barely beat a Pakistan side that only just beat a Pakistan side...which was injury sticken...If they are so good why couldnt they get Midsbah out???

    England drew 1:1 in India recently...so they cant be second rate, they also beat South Africa away, which India have never done in a series.

  • Umpah on December 21, 2007, 10:35 GMT

    Teece, spot on. You must be an Aussie. If I may be so bold to add: Clarke - vulnerable to short of a length going across (especialy early). Hayden - get him walking and bowl short with pace changes. He plays across the line and is committed. Gilchrist - bowl at top of off stump (cutting in to him) Punter - spot on (and hope) Hussey - spot on Symonds - can be bought cheaply playing across the line, especially from left handers. And everyone else bowl plenty of slower balls. And thats what makes this fun. Even with the Indians knowing all this (and they do I would imagine), they still have next to no chance. Peace..

  • Keyzad Anklesaria on December 21, 2007, 10:34 GMT

    Gimme a break, I mean if India lose the test series 1-0, it would be like winning the series.No Mcgrath, no Warne, still i suppose there's no problem for Australia,they r banking on pace battery which they have in abundance.Last time when we toured Australia ,Veeru was in form of his life ,ably supported by Aakash Chopra,who were giving rock solid starts almost every innings.While this time around one will frequently see 2/3 Indian wickets fall in the first 20 overs. As far as Sydney wicket is concerned im not so sure these wickets are the same as before.Its got lots of juice for the Pace bowlers and im sure all the groundsmen would do thier homework properly and make fast and bouncy wickets for a complete Whitewash.

  • sree on December 21, 2007, 9:18 GMT

    Though I am a great fan of cricket, dont really understand why our own fans are saying "Batting is aging and bowling is weak".Remember the same bowling line up gave us our first test victory in South Africa, series wins at West Indies and England. as far as the aging factor is concerened Aussies are more aged than the Indians.Blame the authorities not making fast and quality pitches in India(both intl and domest matches) where we can groom good fast bowlers.I dont think Even the best spoken Aussie Pace line up could have done better than the indians in the recent concluded Indo-Pak test series.

  • bharat on December 21, 2007, 9:05 GMT

    Every country has had bad crowd behaviours. Both Aussie and Indian crowds share the spoils in this regard. One things i can promise is that the seires is going to spring up more surprises than any of us thought. Fact can turn out to be stranger than fiction. Cricket fans behold

  • Teece on December 21, 2007, 8:55 GMT

    Come on India! Give us a run for our money. Every team that tours seems to have a couple of dropped chances in every Test that kill their prospects, so the opportunities (Clarke, Hayden and co. give a few) MUST be taken. India can't give Hussey the chance to leave/cover drive all day. Teams bowl too wide to him; the left-armers need to change up their angles and be on middle and off. When Ponting comes in, Kumble should bring himself on. Punter often starts with hard hands, and is a chance for close-in fielders. Singles have to be taken; don't stand there facing maidens and slashing the odd four. For that matter, be very careful with the backfoot drive. Much better in Australia playing an actual cut shot. I hope they make it tight like the last series out here, which was good to watch.

  • dr manish on December 21, 2007, 8:23 GMT

    hi to all,i think it will be a good series which aussie wil win 2 is to 1.and if india manage to draw it ,it will be thanks to their lack of spinnin ability,but i feel that symonds is a good spinner...remember gayle?

  • DareDevil on December 21, 2007, 7:43 GMT

    OHH give us a break Mukul !! i mean its tortorous reading how Kumble out of the blue leads the destiny of all other cricketing nations... LIving in Melbourne, i've not seen the aussies waiting any more to squeeze the juice out of team than the Men in Blue this summer. LIke Ian Chappel said, dont try to compete with the aussies in verbal slangs like some sane indians are trying to do. If you couldnt beat a very lacklustre and depleted Pakistan 3-0; then how on earth suddenly you feel you hold the destiny to all the rest of the world... gosh , its such a pathetic thought. i mean Mukul spit this arrogance out... infact keep it in, let the aussies help you in that.

    ALL those die hard indian fans, let the games begin.. trust me, you are up for some real miserable cricket viewing.

  • souvik on December 21, 2007, 7:18 GMT

    Posted by Vas: "Up until three years ago, Mike Hussey's salary wouldnt have been a third of what he earns now. And that's what comes from a system that nurtures players to become better through hard work, not by relying on politics or cash to get their way in the team as is so often the case with the Indians." As usual, Aussies will confirm what Bernard Shaw wrote a 100 years ago: "It is always better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you are a fool, than to open it and remove all doubts." Do you have any idea how much a first class player in India earns even after the current "ICL induced" boost? It's not even a tenth of the test player's check. I don't know of even one player in this team who had to bribe his way to selection. Politics have had a greater influence, but as John Wright has noted, "it was limited to slots 14,15,and 16." While not acceptable, the overall team spirit has not been affected by it: the coach and captain have had a far greater influence on it.

  • Kish Kumar on December 21, 2007, 6:46 GMT

    Just as the so called "Reality driven" people can't see the Indian bowling taking 20 Aussie wickets, I can't see the Australian bowling attack taking 20 Indian wickets with Pathan batting at as low as Number 9. Only umpires think that there is no match for Australia. Australians have wonderful batting line-up. My prediction is: 1-1 draw - Draw Melbourne(There is plenty of rain here ), Draw Sydney, Lose Perth, Win Adelaide.

  • vikrant on December 21, 2007, 6:38 GMT

    What's this obsession with Perth - if you examine the last few test matches you will find that the first innings have been the hardest - and in the last test Monty and Warne were two of the chief tormentors. Another successful bowler was McGrath who was by no means express - especially in the last couple of years Perth is about batting 2nd 3rd and 4th - so India needs to win the toss and field

  • souvik on December 21, 2007, 6:20 GMT

    Mukul's brilliant when the subjet is not VVS. Jokes apart, I think many of us will be surprised at Perth. Today's Perth offers more swing and less bounce. Zaheer and Irfan's abilities under these conditions would level the playing field against Lee and co. Sachin, I don't think has played a test match in Perth since the 148 not out in '92. If one of the batsmen manage anything remotely close, I think Aussies will be in for a shock. However, we mustn't lose more than one of Melbourne and Sydney before that. And then, if all batsmen combined offer 70% of Dravid in Adelaide, and if the bowlers share the load of Agarkar, Hans Anderson would appear a non fiction writer. Imagine: A "fab four" on their last legs, down 1 - 0 in the series and two tests to go. Amidst growing clamour back home for their heads and having houses torched, "wham" at Perth, followed by "bam" in Adelaide, thank you Ian. The ensuing celebrations would make post 20/20 a candle light vigil. Go India!

  • Kish Kumar on December 21, 2007, 5:51 GMT

    I don't understand why you write off the Indian bowling attack. Only difference between this bowling attack and the one which nearly won in 2003 is, Ajit Agarkar. Do you think India miss him so much? Please don't judge Indian seamers by their performance in the featherbeds in India. If India had Sreesanth in the bowling lineup it would have been better than Australia's. Australians have pace, but bowling is not just about hitting 150kph. I don't know how good Pankaj singh and Ishant Sharma are, but I know R.P Singh is a quality bowler and add him with Zaheer's accuracy and Pathan's skillfulness, you have a very good seam bowling attack, backed up by the ever-reliable Kumble. It is a very good bowling attack. However, I do beleive that India will miss the service of Akash Chopra. He was brilliant in the short leg position and was outperforming the Australian fielder in that position. I sincerly hope that India find someone to specialize in that spot. Catches and umpiring win matches!!

  • Ashe on December 21, 2007, 5:48 GMT

    It is the guys at the helm of BCCI who are hell-bent on sending Indian cricket and its potential down the drain. Look at the horribly crazy scenario: The Indian team is allowed ONLY ONE practice match (which is washed out!) to acclimatise to Aussie conditions. They could have planned and curtailed the programme with Pakistan and allowed the Indian players to be amply rested & prepared,but no,its the BCCI, the Advertisers, the revenue and TV telecasts that are dictating the scenario today. The cart is clearly pulling the horse and...Pawar, Modi, Shah, Manohar, Bindra, Srinivasan and Co. "up there"...don't care. How do you expect the Indian Team to perform? If the Indian Team returns defeated, the players will be blamed and, despite all this, if the Team comes back victorious, the BCCI will pat its own back and get the justification to perpetrate such torture on its players in future. Moral of the story: The Team and players are incidental, only the BCCI (and ICC) is all-important.

  • vas on December 21, 2007, 5:20 GMT

    One has to wonder where such bullishness comes from on the part of Indian fans. I mean, the players are good, and the money is there, but do you guys honestly believe that talent itself will get you across the line against the industrious and attention-to-detail obsessed Aussies? Look yourself in the mirror and honestly say that you think the Indians work as hard as the Aussies. If you are of that opinion, give yourself an uppercut.

    All teams have talented players. The difference has been in the mental approach. The Indians are paid in the millions, so they play like millionaires. Until you get to the Aussie team though, you dont get paid much. Up until three years ago, Mike Hussey's salary wouldnt have been a third of what he earns now. And that's what comes from a system that nurtures players to become better through hard work, not by relying on politics or cash to get their way in the team as is so often the case with the Indians.

  • abe on December 21, 2007, 4:51 GMT

    with all this talk about india losing 3-0, 2-0, or drawing the series, just imagine the feeling, no matter how crazy, just imagine india beating australia 4-0 in this series. Just imagine...

  • Keshava on December 21, 2007, 4:39 GMT

    It's certainly true that the first test is crucial, although at this point to suggest that Kumble will go in with Jaffer and Karthik is ludicrous- Yuvraj is a certain starter. The author's lack of faith in Yuvraj is as well established as his unspoken belief that Laxman is the equal of Tendulkar, but Yuvraj's knock on the first day at Bangalore, which I was privileged to see in the flesh, has to be one of the finest hundreds by an Indian even in a batsman- dominated era such as this one.

    The Australians who believe that an Indian win would "merely cancel out" Australia's win in 2004, while devaluing the 2003/4 series due to the absence of McGrath and Warne, cheerfully ignore the fact that that 2004 series win had more than a little to do with the rain god, who in Madras proved for the nth time that he is an Australia fan.

  • Peter on December 21, 2007, 4:14 GMT

    There's been quite a few comments on here about how Australia's bowling lineup lacks experience. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! India will rely on Kumble and Khan, but their depth after that is somewhat lacking - calling on fast bowlers such as RP Singh and Ishant Sharma to back them up is a big ask. It's true that Australia will need a lot from their comparatively inexperienced bowlers - apart from Brett Lee, none of their bowlers have done a lot at test level. But that's a bit misleading; Stuart Clark is definitely not young and has played a lot of first-class cricket, and Brad Hogg likewise - he has more than 100 ODIs under his belt. It's only the third seamer's spot, to be taken by Mitchell Johnson or Shaun Tait, that looks to be weak in terms of experience. Then again, Australia's attack must definitely be regarded as their weakest in years - the last time their bowling lineup was this weak was when India last toured Australia, and we all know what happened there.

  • Ali on December 21, 2007, 4:09 GMT

    Good artcicle mukul.Australia dominate india and will win the series 3-0,for those who think India can beat Australia they must think again if u think india did well then also u must think again cause in 2003/4 Australia had injures and they did not have the batting lineup they had now and i think this bowling lineup of Australia is much much stronger then they had in 2003/4. Brett lee is more accurate and more dangerous!!

  • Ali on December 21, 2007, 4:08 GMT

    Good artcicle mukul.Australia dominate india and will win the series 3-0,for those who think India can beat Australia they must think again if u think india did well then also u must think again cause in 2003/4 Australia had injures and they did not have the batting lineup they had now and i think this bowling lineup is much much stronger and in 2003/4. Brett lee is more accurate and more dangerous!!

  • Ayaz Khan on December 21, 2007, 3:29 GMT

    India has the batting to post big scores. After Mcgrath and Warne Australias bowling are not the same. First of all the Captain and the think tank will have to motivate the "golden oldies" and than somebody will have to support Zaheer. If Tendulkar, Dravid Ganguly and Laxman gets going for a last hurrah they can do it. I am a Pakistani but I am supporting India because Australias monopoly on the game must be broken. However whatever happens I dont see this Indian team going down 4-0. They are a much better team. If India can somehow manage to hold off the Aussies that will give birth to a new era of test cricket. Good luck to your guys.

  • sachin on December 21, 2007, 3:28 GMT

    i think India is going to lose at MCG because of no match practice. 2nd test and 4th test we may have chance of winning but thats too remote. Perth is going to be a disaster. the score line may be 3-1 in favor of Australia or 3-0 but i dont see India winning two test matches. Umpiring should be of high standards and also catching. We need not take screamers but it will be good if we dont drop dollies. many touring sides paid heavy price for dropping catches which are sitters. ex Ashley giles dropping Ponting in 2nd test match of Ashes 2006. had he held that catch that Ashes result would have been entirely different and that was a sitter. Andrew Nel dropped ponting twice in Aus and in SA as well which were lollipops and they lost the series. Kallis dropped one too many in slips against Aus. and somebody ask Harbhajan to shut his mouth. the last thing you would do is to tickle kangaroo in its ribs. it would crush you to death. the more you talk the more hard the Aussies will come at u.

  • Amit on December 21, 2007, 3:05 GMT

    Our bowling is actually in better shape than last time. Agarkar was our pace spearhead the last time around. If you remember, Agarkar used to bowl a 4-ball every over. This time we have a dual threat in RP Singh and Zaheer. If Sreesanth is able to join the series at some point of time, that makes for an attack as potent as the Australians.

    India has handled Lee in the past. Stuart Clarke is inexperienced. Shaun Tait is inexperienced. Mitchell Johnson is inexperienced. Why should I expect them to be better than the numerous other hardworking fast bowlers such Andy Bichel that India have played comfortably in the past. Get over the blasted hype.

    Why do you guys keep dissing the Indian bowling? Our bowlers did well in England, and almost won us the series in South Africa. It is our batsmen who fail more often than not. But I see nothing in this Australian attack to produce a failure of the magnitude of the '99 washout.

    The Indians are determined; Australians are in for a rude shock.

  • The Earl of Chutney on December 21, 2007, 1:50 GMT

    Being an Earl - of Chutney no less - I know a thing or two about the ways of the world. From a totally unbaised standpoint, looking at the teams exactly as they stand at this point in time, there is no way known that India will win. The facts often get lost in amongst the shouting of all-star names such as 'Tendulkar!' and 'Dravid!'; and the fact is that India just can't compare to Australia as a unit.

    I enjoy a contest as much as the next Earl, so all I can pray for is a close result. But at the same time, I also want the results to demonstrate exactly where the teams are at the minute, which, essentially, is at opposite ends of the scale.

    As for me, I'll now continue with my Earl-type activities, all the while keeping one eye keenly glued to the goings-on down under. While the monotony of the Australian winning machine can get a bit tiresome, it is good, once in a while, to simply sit back and stare in awe at what these men are currently accomplishing.

    Let's appreciate it.

  • Mohit Suryawanshi on December 21, 2007, 1:29 GMT

    Following on, no praise can be high enough for Rahul Dravid for opening the batting just to accomodate Yuvraj. I'm not happy with that, but unless Sehwag strikes form, there's no option. Wasim Jaffer is also such a bad fielder that I would rather see Sehwag-he also gives us an extra option with his bowling, which is much better than many people think. I am extremely sad that Akash Chopra and Parthiv Patel are out of the side-both are in great form, and most importantly, Chopra is a brilliant short-leg fielder. On the Aussie side, I'm very happy that they are NOT picking David Hussey and Ashley Noffke. Both these guys are in great form, and David is a FAR MORE dangerous batsman than his brother. I think both sides are even, although if the pitches spin, India can win IF we hold our catches. Also, Jaffer, Sachin, Yuvraj are not good players of spin- therefore I would love to see the Aussies play with 4 fast bowlers! I think it would backfire on them. Lastly, I PRAY we see good umpiring!

  • Siva K on December 21, 2007, 1:23 GMT

    I think India has a good chance if they play positive and aggressive cricket. By that, I mean, batsmen look to score and not defend eternally, bowler looks to attack and take wickets and fielders attack the ball and take catches. It is that simple. Australians focus on things that win them games, namely, runs, wickets & catches. Indians for the most part tend focus on things that don't win them games, namely, batting time, not taking singles seriously, looking for a draw. The other thing is, India needs to maintain a nothing-to-loose and every thing-to-gain mentality. History suggests that we play exceptionally well when there is nothing to be lost. Look no beyond our 20-20 win and Laxman's heroics in 2001 against the Aussies in Kolkata. In the 1st innings, only with the tail for company, he just focused on scoring. He just wanted to score as much as possible before the tail folded. Focused on scoring, he got 59 of 83 balls. In other words, he played +ve cricket. Rest is history!

  • Mohit on December 21, 2007, 0:58 GMT

    Any team is merely as good as it is allowed to be. The Aussie team at present is VERY ORDINARY in the bowling department. Any one who saw the 20 2o match in Bombay would have seen their expressions of helplessness when faced by our young guns, who showed them no respect whatever, which is the right attitude. Also for you bigmouth Aussies, just have a gander at your current bowlers first class bowling records- they are very ordinary. The only aspect which worries me is the Aussie fielding- theres no comparison. The brilliant Aussie fielding will make these also-ran bowlers look like world beaters, while Indian fielding is rivalling Pakistan for the world's worst. Also, everyone talks about our batting/bowling composition but no-one talks about our fielding composition! We have no specialist close-in fielders, and some of our efforts against Pakistan were pathetic. Gautam Gambhir should never be considered for India unless he can develop himself as a close-in specialist.

  • Prabhu on December 21, 2007, 0:38 GMT

    I can see some inconsequential comments here already such as "population:cricket greatness" argument and "educational based soceity" justification - SIGH.Just have a couple of things to say: 1. There has been only one team that has given Aus a run for their money in the last 8 years or so. If I am not mistaken the total head to head test matches score is 4-4 in the 2000s. So yes Indian fans can dream of beating the Aussies. 2. Yes yes...our hearts bleed that Aussies played a 2nd string bowling attack in 03-04 when the series was drawn (Gillespie, Lee and Bracken/Kasprowiz?/Williams and McGill) while India played an exceptional dream attack (Agarkar - that all time great, Pathan - debut tearway, Nehra - the finest left armer none would say and Kumble! Zaheer was injured and Srinath has retired.Whinging is not just the pastime of those in that Island in Europe, it affects an Island in the pacific as well! The q is really this- can Lax,Sach,Dravid,Gangs& Yuvi absorb the heat? 2-1:)

  • Sam on December 21, 2007, 0:21 GMT

    India don't have a hope of winning.

    Australia will beat them easily and will continue to win because they do the hard work on and off the wicket.

    The Indians seem to me to have more individual talent.......but having talent is not enough, and since they would rather act like celebrities and rock stars, and mouth-off in the media than do the hard work necessary to win....their fans can expect to see them humiliated in Australia.

    Why should Aussies feel bad about being on top and winning? It's time for the rest of the world to stop whining and do the hard stuff - just like the Aussies have.

    Until then, they can expect to get their butts handed back to them every time they play Australia.

  • ahmed on December 21, 2007, 0:20 GMT

    Well India should do better this time than they did during their last tour with Zaheer Khan, Kumble and Harbhajan doing well in bowling department. If India can win toss and put heaps of runs in first innings they can put pressure on Australian's migthy batting line-up. Except Perth other venues should help Kumble and company on last days. So let's be optimistic.

  • Bala Yugandar on December 21, 2007, 0:11 GMT

    As always the case, Mukul writes compellingly enough to provoke a zillion responses. I don't know anyone remembers but he wrote and accuarately predicted victory over England not out of hope but out of assurance. Mukul seems to have taken a backstep while predicting the likely outcomes of the forthcoming Ind v/s Australia series. Agreed that Australia has terrific test record and they bully opponents but their bowling never ever comes close to the 'irresistible' bowling attack of Windies of late 70's to late 80's. Imagine 4 pure strike bowlers in one team!!! Bottomline....India need not fear being blown away at all....Australian attacks have been very efficient rather than utterly fearsome! In fact Brett Lee scored a double hundred(bowling)in the Sydney test last time around where even Parthiv was also pasting him all over the park. Trust our batting to deliver and our bowling to be resolute! If India wins it's not going to be an upset, as someone pointed in all naivety,it's a fair res

  • vas on December 20, 2007, 23:51 GMT

    It's interesting to note the various levels of optimism from the Indian fans here. Mukuls assertion of Test cricket's death pays no attention that one day Australia will be faced with a mass exodus of their stars. How can one then assume that another nation wont step up?

    India can win this series if they play SMART. dont provoke the aussies into a verbal slanging match, coz the Aussies will always win. Instead, provoke them by concentrating on cricket, maintaining pressure by tight bowling and good fielding. If that happens, theres no need for verbals. India's deeds will get the job done.

    It wasnt two tests ago that Australia's bowling attack was questioned, so why has that changed now? Lee and Clark will hold themselves well, but Johnson, Tait and Hogg are men the Indians can target. Thats why I'm hoping for a few wickets that can give the bowlers some encouragement and that batsmen have to work for their runs. That'll make a real contest & give both batters and bowlers have a shot.

  • Rahul Sahgal on December 20, 2007, 23:33 GMT

    Very balanced and dow-to-earth piece by Mukul. One point I would like to raise: If Dravid does open at the MCG, why would we use that extra slot to bring in another batsman - when it is the bowling that is the weak link?

    In addition to Jaffer, Dravid, Tendulkar, Ganguly and Laxman - we also have a keeper-batsman in Dhoni. So the last thing we need is to further shore up the batting stocks. What we need is a 5th bowler. We should be demanding that our 6 batsmen deliver the goods, and the extra spot created by getting Dravid to open, should be given to another bowler. That is the kind of aggressive/positive thinking we need going into this test series. Having 7 batsmen and only four bowlers indicates a defensive mindset where we do not give ourselves a good shot at bowling them out twice.

    Yuvraj will get his chance. He will end his career as one of our leading lights. But the first test at the MCG is not the right time to bring him in - it does not fit with the needs of the team.

  • Prashanth on December 20, 2007, 23:30 GMT

    Thank god I am not one of those very pessimistic Indians that I am reading all along. Indian fast bowling were never expceted to challenge English batsmen but they won series for us. Indian fast bowling always delivered when they are given right pitches and good fielding. Indian fast bowlers are capable of getting 20 wickets and mark my work they will get the 20 aussie wickets more than once in this series. A war or a game is won at mind first and then on the field. I am sure unlike Indain supporters Indian players are not so pessimistic in their minds. One more thing I would like to say to BCCI is Indian Cricket is golden Goose as long as you give it a fair chance to win.

  • Grud on December 20, 2007, 23:02 GMT

    Anthony, Good point...but just so you got your math right, 60% of literacy means over 60 million people. 3 times ur population. Now, yes most of these people did leave country but they r still Indians and they are still respected and given jobs because they are Indians. True it is not cricket related...but i was explaining why don't often excel in sports....nothing against Aussies. They are a very good sporting nation.

  • Jaya on December 20, 2007, 22:34 GMT

    The best two in form test batsman Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Muttiah Muralitharan and Lasith Malinga could not do it for Sri Lanka.

    Do you think India with three medium pacers can do it?

    Except Kumble none of the Indian bowlers will ever get selected for Australian state teams. These bowlers could not bowl out Pakistan in the recent test series

    We are going to see Rickey Pointing Phil Jaques, Mike Hussey improve their test averages. All the hype will evaporate by the time the Sydney test match will be over.

  • Ravi from OZ on December 20, 2007, 22:19 GMT

    I reckon India will get flogged.

    BCCI is one of the most inept organisations. Money is corrupting the game in India. CRICKET ISN’T CRICKET ANYMORE

  • Nat on December 20, 2007, 21:58 GMT

    Folks, let's be optimistic and hope the greats (in what will be their last series down under) will bring back the most cherished prize of them all - beating aussies! Ishant & Pankaj, here is your opportunity to make a difference. I don't have high hopes for zaheer (unless he reproduce the magic of English summer)but expect a good series for RP and Yuvraj. Bhajji, back up your words with wickets and you will be the toast of India or expect someone else filling your spot soon.

  • chandra on December 20, 2007, 21:45 GMT

    England - 81 all out...Mediocre ? need we say more ?

  • kam on December 20, 2007, 21:25 GMT

    i am afraid the cricinfo web site is going to lose readers if this unabashed focus and obsession with Indian cricket continues. Even some of the professional writers are allowed to get away with such ridiculous comments as " It'll be the end of Test cricket as we know it. Captain Kumble holds the future of the long game in his hands". India got knocked out in the first round of WC Their bowling attack looked particularly mediocre against against a depleted and essentially a 3-man Pak batting lineup. when was the last time IND won a a series in SL, if ever First they have to prove themselves consistent over a period of time in the longer version of the game and in all sorts of conditions, like AUS have over the last decade or so to claim greatness. And please do not berate other teams as mediocre unless u have the results to back it up. I wish them well, but please have some perspective. thnx

  • Ash Zed - Saudi Arabia on December 20, 2007, 21:17 GMT

    Indians are hopelessly optimistic. Whenever the team embarks on any important tour, the one billion Indians chanting slogans as if India is the ONLY team that can win. Just recall all the hype and drama that was created just before WC 2007 and I hope all still remember the result.

    The same is happening to this tour. India losing 4-0 is a real and absolute possibility, 3-0 if Indians are lucky, 2-0 if rain plays its part and 1-0 if India plays the best cricket of their life time.

  • Awas on December 20, 2007, 21:03 GMT

    If ever there was a time India can make a wish from Santa it is this. A post card at cricketfiles.com does exactly that - ;)

  • Challenge Raja on December 20, 2007, 20:21 GMT

    MK - The 21st century is only 7 years old, yet you've made the case that test cricket is already dying.Onto cricket, instead of making silly statements like the toss of the first match deciding the series, better would be if the Indians buttoned up and faced the Australians with everything they have, whats with this excuse mongering even before the series has started. Australia will win this series, but barely just, maybe 2-1 or 1-0. They're definitely winning the WACA game. Surprising no Paki supporter is complaining that you failed to mention them in this story. ;) One thing I do concur with you is the treatment of England, they are a bunch of spoiled players, too much comfort and they have an excuse consultant for a coach.They blame snakes, heat trees the batsmen , just about anyone but themselves for their pitiful display, so you're right, they are pathetic and they deserve all the criticism they get. India - Play to win NOT to draw only then will you survive.

  • Prashant on December 20, 2007, 20:20 GMT

    Mukul, cmon get over with your bias against Yuvraj, on current form he should be the second name on team sheet for middle order after Sourav. Tough to believe erudite writers like you can be so biased against Yuvraj.

  • Smith on December 20, 2007, 20:00 GMT

    India's bowling is a blackbox. Zaheer, RP and Kumble are in...with Ganguly doubling as a gentle medium pace, we should go with Pankaj Singh who promises accuracy. Ishant has a 5 for, but pace doesnt seem to be his strength nor is accuracy..although he is a better known quantity. Pathan should not get a look-in, because he brings the same dimensions as Zaheer and RP with lesser promise. His yorker no longer exists, he needs the ball to swing, and his pace is pathetic. I dont see a role for him, other than the potential of scoring double digit runs..

  • Sajeer on December 20, 2007, 19:55 GMT

    talk about putting pressure on your team dude. We Sri Lankan crashed in Australia recently, and this was without too much media hype and pressure of this kind. I know India has a good batting line up, but the most important aspect they need is professionalism and consistency. The Aussies too have a few new guys in the team (talented no doubt), but they're a success b'cause of the consistence and professionalism they display. If India can mirror this, then they can succeed. I hope this can happen. From a Sri Lankan to a fellow South Asian, I wish India every success in this rubber.

  • ssh921 on December 20, 2007, 19:52 GMT

    keep on dreaming..India is going to get thrashed 4-NIL..TRUST ME..Yuvraj won't be able to even buy a run..his technique will get exposed real bad and Tendulkar and Ganguly won't score much..there is a difference between scoring on flat dead pitches against a 2nd string (& half-fit) bowling attack of Pak and scoring runs against the Aussies..they should prepare a fast pitch at the MCG and play the 4 fast bowlers..Ind has been playing for 60 yrs and can't yet face quality fast bowling..they are full of s**t..all hype and no substance.

  • Dhaval Brahmbhatt on December 20, 2007, 19:46 GMT

    Mukul, I don't agree with your thinking that this Indian team needs to win and be the savior for Test cricket. I believe if you are not good enough to beat the best, then you cannot be the best. I think if Test cricket were to survive, all teams need to improve - and you cannot improve without improving domestic /grassroots level cricket. India really needs to think about improving the playing conditions - be it the wickets on which we play our domestic competitions or the outfield conditions, or the gyms, or whatever - we can't expect to be world beaters without the right infrastructure. With regards to this series, we might not be able to win the series primarily because our bowling lacks quality, however, to draw you a match - you need quality batsman and I think we have them in our side.

  • Aditya on December 20, 2007, 19:36 GMT

    I don' Australia are bored by the no. of times they win. They keep challenging themselves and are constantly improving. An example for this are their WC victories in 99,03 and 07. In 99 they lost 2 matches, in 03 they won all matches but a with few hiccups (eg v Eng and v Ken in super six and Semi final v SL).In 07 they won all their matches again and this time they beat all teams comprehensively (better than 03).They keep lifting themselves all the time. Their domestic cricket is the best in the world. I watched quite a few of their matches and its like watching an Aus v Aus match. This is the reason why they have dominated so long;they keep producing good players consistently.Despite being such a large country they have only six teams which ensures that only the best play first class cricket. As far as this article goes I must say that the writer is very biased and illogical in his thinking. This series will be won by Aus but I think its gonna be very competitive and exciting.

  • Ram on December 20, 2007, 19:33 GMT

    Mukul,

    Great article. I am really hoping for a Christams miracle.

    As so many people have pointed out we simply dont have the bowling fire power to win a test series. A single test, may be. Zaheer Khan's brilliance got us a test in England, Sreeshant's brilliance got us a test in SA. Agarkar's 6 for got us a test the last time around. Whose turn is it? My bets on RP. He is reasonably sharp, swings it a bit and has good control.

    I predict a 2-1 in favor of Australia. I would be happy with that result. And dont you worry about the batting. Cometh the hour cometh the man. This is a welcome change from the Indian team a decade ago. Invariably, somebody comes in with a big score when it is needed.

    -Ram

  • arvin on December 20, 2007, 19:30 GMT

    india can win the series if umpiring is not one sided like it was the last 2 times specially against sachin...

  • Sri Ramachandran on December 20, 2007, 19:30 GMT

    Excellent article, Mukul. I suspect your last paragraph scenarios will ring true. The one assumption you're making all along is of an Indian win in Sydney - not too sure about that though, with this Indian team. Remember, Kumble has never had much success Down Under, no reason to expect him to start turning them square overnight. RP Singh is my dark horse and could well put in a match-turning spell (I'm hoping!) in one of the games (atleast). On the batting front, Dravid, Jaffer and Yuvraj would be my picks to make a difference - the key question being whether they can turn it on early in the series. Otherwise, as you say we will be a match down by the time we start the New Year and it will be a long road back.

    Good luck, Kumble and co. - you will need every bit of it.

  • Amar on December 20, 2007, 19:06 GMT

    I would like to bring it to the notice of the writer that we were in winning position last time without just one heroic performance from any bowler. The guy who won us a test was Ajit Agarkar averaging over 50 per wicket. The batsment who performed were Sourav, Laxman, Dravid and to some extent Sachin who played really well in Sydney. But for every batter in this line up has toured to Aus and always scored runs there, So why are we so one sided in feeling that they are going to crumble. We don't have to be optimistic to say that these players will do well because they almost always do well against Aussies. As far as 20 wicket theory goes, I feel we are letting our players down. When a new fast bowler is making a debut, why we always say that they aren't going to make any impact on match. We take it forgranted that they are there to play rubbish but that's not the case. We used to have Venkat Prasad bowling at 125KPH now we have bowlers bowling over 140 isn't that an improvement?Cheers!

  • sandeep on December 20, 2007, 19:00 GMT

    great artcicle mukul simply great spoken like true fan not these 24 channel guys i mean relaistically lets say will a 0-2 be fine i dunnoo!!

  • victor on December 20, 2007, 18:45 GMT

    India will this test series, mark my words! There is enough experience and quality in batting lineup. And Zaheer, Irfan, Kumble and Harbhajan are not pie throwers. You never know what Sachin, Saurav and Yuvraj come up with

  • Anand Kumar on December 20, 2007, 18:35 GMT

    I just read this piece as well as the Cricinfo Round talk bw some SM,IC and TG (:P).The one common theme has been that India doesn't have a bowling line-up capable of taking 20 wickets and consequently India have little chance.SM even went to the extent of saying that he knew that India will fare well last time,but he knows that it wudn't be the case this time.

    The only thing I gotta say is that you never know!Last time Zaheer got injured after a sensational 1st Test Match and I didn't knew who will bear the burden now.Kumble was yet to get his act right in overseas(which he did get in the same tour) and therewas no other pacer.Suddenly,an old mercurial horse came back to surprise all,a young greenhorn burst into the scene and a proven warrior reinvented himself.Two of these players are loast or may be half-lost now.The moral is you never know.An Ishant Sharma might just do things.I remember Irfan Pathan :),but I also remember Thiru Kumaran :|.Ye Never Know :D.

    HOPE FOR THE BEST.

  • Anthony on December 20, 2007, 18:23 GMT

    Dear Grud. India has only 60% literacy, so I dont know where you came up with the "educational society" thing from. The business leaders you speak of either leave India, or run government-backed monopolies. I say this not out of any spite, but its about time the Indians on these comment walls stop taking random non-cricket related shots at other countries. Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

  • Alok on December 20, 2007, 17:59 GMT

    Nice post... but it misses out the simple fact that our bowling is pretty much in tatters, without a hope in hell of getting 10, let alone 20 wickets in a match.

    Zaheer is clearly not match fit, and still recovering from injury. RP Singh is coming back from injury Harbhajan is simply not able to buy a wicket for love or money Ishant Sharma and Pankaj Singh, for all the abundant talent they possess and hard work they will put in, are going to be cannon fodder for Australian batsmen in the form they are in. Pathan has regained a bit of swing and pace since his comeback, but nowhere near the kind of bowler he was last time around.

    That leaves us with Captain Kumble dragging a lonely furrow. He will bowl at least a couple of hundred overs this series, with lots of near misses, close appeals, and yes, some wickets too, but it will be futile.

    In Melbourne and Perth, the series will be decided... in Australia's favour. 2-0 most optimistic, 4-0 nightmarish, but 3-0 most likely.

  • Grud on December 20, 2007, 17:51 GMT

    vermacelli...wow. U say Rahul is a better batsman than SAchin? Well, it's your opinion. But like i say, "everybody is entitled to their own opinion, it's just that yours is stupid". Tony, your analysis was pretty dumb. Sorry but it was. You say since India had a better population, we should have more better players than Aussies? Well, the difference, we are more of an Educational society than a sporting country. In almost every leading corporation in the world, there is an Indian in the top officials...now, speak for your country. Even then, we have Sachin, Rahul, Laxman and Sourav for your ponting. We have Yuvraj for your Symonds, we have Sehwag for your hayden, Dhoni for Gilly and last but not the least, ANIL FOR SHANE!!!...so think before you speak mate.

  • prasath on December 20, 2007, 17:32 GMT

    On what basis Indian pundits and of course the great Australian pundits and media are writing us off and as if aussies bowling line up is top of the world. No way Look the Aussies bowling line up other than Lee (61 tests) Tait Played just 2 tests, Hogg 4 tests, Clark 11 tests and Johnson 2 tests. From Indian point of view Khan 52 tests, Kumble 121 tests, Pathan 26 tests and Harbajan 60 tests would play definitely most of the tests and instead of Pathan or Bajji RP singh or the new comers will play probably in Perth test. I believe we have a strong bowling line up compare to Aussies.

  • prasath on December 20, 2007, 17:31 GMT

    Pundits blabber many about Indian cricket but I don’t think India would struggle in Australia what happened when they played last time, Although we didn’t have quality bowlers other than kumble Aussies were put under the mat. If we play really well in Melbourne and even draw the first test, the pressure will go to Aussies. This time India have great chance of winning test matches both in Sydney and Adelaide. It all depends on the team selection, last time both chopra and sehwag opened for India although chopra was new he stayed at the crease for long time and that made a huge difference this time we have jaffer a specialist and who will be at the other end? Sehwag or Dravid. If we pick the right bowling combination we will show to Aussies how good we are.

  • Anthony on December 20, 2007, 17:18 GMT

    Where is the Aussie blog entry? Why does an Indian get to write about perceived greatness, about his hopes for Harbajan and Jaffer? Why isn't there an article stating that the "great generation" of Indian cricketers have yet to win a World Cup or beat Australia at home. Why doesn't anyone mention that India's bowling attack looked juvenile bowling to basically three in-form Pakistani batsmen. Why doesn't anyone lament the fact that the big Three and the two Princes (Yuvraj and Dhoni) were made to hop by just one quality quick (who could only post 10 over spells) on dead wickets.

    I'm sorry that I have bored people with a second post, but I really am quite irritated at this new bout of unrestrained bout of Indian confidence. I can tolerate it on Reliance Telecom ads, but not on a global cricket website. For heavens sake, you went out in the first round of the World Cup, this year no less.

  • TonyP on December 20, 2007, 17:13 GMT

    My first point would be: win or lose all any cricket team can do is their collective best, and if we see India's best cricket we should all be grateful even if the end result does not flatter. The fixation on results is typical of people who don't play competitively and rather obscures what cricketers should actually be doing, which is playing to the limits their potential.

    2nd point: India's population is 50 times that of Australia, for every Ponting, Warne, or Gilchrist India should have 50 players just as talented. More relevent to the current situation, India should have 150 players of the caliber of Brett Lee, Shaun Tait and Stuart Clark. Three or four injuries should not leave India with a second-string pace attack. THAT's the issue Indian cricket needs to address.

  • grud on December 20, 2007, 17:04 GMT

    I hope Wayne and especially Maveric will read this comment. First of all as an Indian I apologize for the racial slurs from some stupid racists. Man, Maverick you are hilarious. You being an Aussie are calling others arrogant? I am stunned by the level of hypocracy. Now, back to cricket, I assure you that imagining an Indian win is not insane. Look at their form. I also think that we should all stop putting pressure on them. Indians usually suffer under pressure. I do want to see kumble men stopping ponting men from reaching that milestone, not because I am jealous but if there is one team who could do it, it is Team India. Speaking of Srilankan bowling attack being better than India's, I beg to differ. They were not in form. and Mutthiah is usually not at his best in Aus. But Kumble has a much better record in Aus than Murali. So people shut up and watch India at least draw this series.

  • Anthony on December 20, 2007, 16:58 GMT

    Just want cricket needs, another excuse for Indians to be cocky. After the cricketing world had to endure their relentless prattling after the inconsequential T20, non-Indians will completely stop coming to cricinfo.

    Ofcourse, I doubt cricinfo would mind too much. It is ofcourse written by Indians, for Indians. India is the only team a neutral can support Australia over. Hopefully the irritating trio of Harbajan, Ganguly and Sreesanth will get their stumps (if not heads) blown off by Lee, Tait and friends.

  • Vijay padmanabhan on December 20, 2007, 16:46 GMT

    Well Mukul, being a ardent cricket fan esp indian fan can be painful at times.Still i got to appreciate ur well groomed patriotism for india. Do u know when did india manage to win matches in australia when the ball seamed a bit? U can draw heart from the fact India won a test in australia. But do u know how the pitches played last time? Those pitches played like hell flat pitches of india and when the ball seamed a bit in mcg, india lost. I guess we got to be practical abt our chances. India might boast a wealthy or healthy batting lineup, but it all comes to perofrming in pressure which india never did. Only time india came back being 0-1 down in a series was in 2001, apart from that its all downhill. I guess most of the series wins in the recent came when india were leading 1-0 and it remained 1-0, because india simply didnt possess an intention to conquer an poosition when they were 1-0 up.. That shows how defensive we are when it comes to winning.

  • Neville on December 20, 2007, 16:41 GMT

    India needs to go into every match believing it can win, whether batting first or second. They cannot afford to go with a mindset like we may win in sydney and lose at Perth. There are potentially 20 days of test match cricket and 60 sessions, India needs to go in with an intention of winning them all. Spin will eventually play a role and there will be a time when the aussies collapse in an innings, India needs to be patient and strong enough to seize that chance. 1 - 0 to India if we play it smart and wily !

  • resmyrakri on December 20, 2007, 16:39 GMT

    I pity for Adams.England is a mediocreteam living with their words and allegations. They dont have qualit ybatsman or quality bowlers. See how they crumbled against a quality seem bowling. They became No 2 recently beating second quality teams like Bangaldesh, West Indies and some other teams in their back yard and says they are great team. As far as cahnce for India in Australia, it would have been nice to see Sreesanth there along with other rookie bowlers and Kumble. I believe it is difficult to defeat Australia, but their bowling line up has combined experience of less than 50 tests and in a tight situation they are going to be exposed. If Indian batting line up could fire means they are going to be in trouble. Hope Dravid will be back in form. It doesnt count whether h eopens or come at NO3. Runs matters. All the best for the team india.

  • vermacelli on December 20, 2007, 16:09 GMT

    It burns me how Dravid will be asked (or will volunteer) to open, to ensure the remaining paper tiger middle order is accommodated and mollycoddled. It’s laughable that the best Indian batsman, and India’s series prospects, will be sacrificed to provide adequate room in the middle-order for past or future superstars. I am tired of Saurav being lumped into the so called Fab Four. His last series is the only one to my mind that was a monster from a batting perspective. And that required easy wickets as well as a kick-in-the-pants wake-up call through exclusion. And for you Tendulkar fans, wake up. The "king" is dead. In fact he died a long time ago. He may have some good one day innings ahead of him, but his future test career will be modest at best. As for Yuvraj, one big innings does not a great batsman make. I don’t even want to discuss Harbhajan. In these days of conservation, excess baggage is evil. I want to see India do well, but c'mom, don't make it so hard.

  • maco on December 20, 2007, 16:05 GMT

    think taking 20 wickets is not at all a problem, it all depends on how pitch plays on last day, if we are bowling on last day and theres swing in the pitch its easy to get 10 wickets on last day, remember zaheer and rp are natural swing bowlers, when agarkar can swing the ball and win us a match why not zaheer and rp. Our main problem is not to finish of the tail quickly,if we are able to finish of the tail then we have good chance to win the series 2-0. Remember the sydney test when we were so close to winning the test, if at all parthiv had not dropped steve waugh we could have won the test

  • Adam on December 20, 2007, 15:39 GMT

    When India have held number 2 in the Test rankings for several years, maybe Mr Kesavan might then have some basis for saying that England are a "mediocre team".

    Every team has its ups and downs (e.g. failing to reach the second round of the ODI world cup) but in this century England have turned in some great performances. Perhaps India have too.

    But why needlessly denegrate teams from other countries in order to talk up your own importance?

  • kris on December 20, 2007, 15:36 GMT

    Interesting points Mukul.If India needs to win this series, it has to use certain tactics. Straightforward victory is out of question. No bowling team has taken 20 wickets against the Ozzies consistently and the Indian bowling line up has no chance except in Sydney where 2 spinners will play and have a decent chance. So India has to draw rest of the games and one option is to load the team with batsmen and include Pathan (with Zaheer & RP) in the bowling line-up who can bolster the batting. Also Dravid should open, a gamble worth taking; if survives the first session we have an extra middle-order batsman in Yuvraj who can be accommodated. Perth will be most difficult to draw but bringing in Ishant (in RP's place) in perth (not before) would be a surprise for the Ozzies. Also Sehwag should be played in Sydney in place of Yuvraj with bhajji & Anil where the team should go for an all out victory. Barring injuries if things go to plan, India can pull an incredible 1-0 win.

  • SP on December 20, 2007, 15:16 GMT

    Mukul, I see that you are already popping them little pills. You should get yourself some more, those which will hopefully get you through post-traumatic stress.

    Seriously people, which planet are you all living on?

    One more thing Mukul: cricket does not revolve around India you know. The world is not going to crash just because we got thrashed.

  • RajjoGemini on December 20, 2007, 15:14 GMT

    That was a fair description of what Test cricket has become over the years full of Australian domination, no wonder if they do reach the no. 18 Phil J would be best test opener, but it would be so un-fair given the talent elsewhere available and kind of challenge India can pose this time too(they are a good side. It would be a very tight series for Indians as Aussies are not going to give away an inch...still there are some chinks in their armour too notably the lack of depth in their Bowling attach, India better make a killing out of that...

  • Play Yuvraj on December 20, 2007, 14:53 GMT

    This is the ultimate test in all of cricket: beating the best team on this planet on their home turf in conditions that suit them the best and suit you the least. If India so much as manages to draw this series it will be their greatest achievement since winning the '83 world cup. It will also allow for a fitting farewell for a couple of the folks in their famed middle-order. My only prayer would be to allow Yuvraj Singh to play this series...it will allow him to truly prove to himself and to the world how good a player he really is.

  • absar on December 20, 2007, 14:30 GMT

    I think one things for sure - We need to win the toss and bat first at Melbourne.. and hope like crazy it rains... or dada or someone else steps up and plays the kind of devil-may-care-i-didnt innings that dada played at the gabba last time around. Coz one things for sure - we have to not lose the 1st test to be alive. Consider this - we draw the 1st test. 2nd test is at Sydney wherein lies our best chance to win and go 1-0 up (Provided we bat first again). Then.. and only then... can we entertain the thoughts of beating the aussies. Im not sooo sure as to we will lose the Perth test - thats exactly what the English said when we went to Headingly in 2002 - on the seamers paradise. But we came out on top. Same with the Barbados test in 2006. So pray pray pray - that we win the tosses and it rains a lot in the 1st test... CHAK DE INDIA!!!

  • sri on December 20, 2007, 14:19 GMT

    Cross your fingers and hope someone hits the kind of patch Laxman did last time around. One of the big 4 must score a century in almost every test and the others in every other. It should be a delight to watch australias bowling take on indian batting

  • Parthiv on December 20, 2007, 14:13 GMT

    How utterly hilarious to see that just a couple of articles after berating the England team for being unhappy about an umpiring decsion, Kesavan is already whingeing about umpiring decisions in a series that hasn't even happened yet! I do love to see a hypocrite exposed for what he is! (As ever the idiocy is lapped up by a few simple minded sheep, including one still blubbing about a game in 1999 - for heaven's sake grow up).

    Also how tiresome to see that this author cannot help but yet again throw in typically tiresome digs at England and South Africa. There is a word for this man but apparently we are not allowed to use it in comments but it is readily apparent to anyone with open eyes what kind of person he is.

    Cricinfo's role in the continuing publication of Kesavan's chip on the shoulder propagandising also needs examining. Put it this way, an English or South African correspondant would never be allowed to make so many snide and fatuous comments at the expense of an Asian team

  • James, Broome on December 20, 2007, 14:03 GMT

    "It'll be the end of Test cricket as we know it"- hmmmm, i think not. Test crickets enduring charm is its ability to rise above the fortunes and failures of the wider society. One teams dominance is not going to end Test cricket; of more concern is the continued inablity of other 'test playing nations' to not improve (Bangladesh), get worse (West Indies), be dragged down by political interference (Zimbabwe, Pakistan, to some extent Sri lanka) or refuse large portions of its population from playing due to their 'position' in society (India). Australia is the greatest Test team because as a society 97% of the male population is able to play and be chosen to represent their country based purely on their abilty as cricketers and their desire to reach the top. Unfortunately the other 3% are denied this, that being the Aboriginal population. Hopefully this will change: no society is perfect. India COULD be the best team in the world if only they allowed their whole population to take part.

  • karma on December 20, 2007, 14:00 GMT

    true our fast bowling is not good but i think australians aren't the best bowling team either. in test cricket one good spinner is a must, which at the moment the australians don't have. and mitchell johnson and shaunt tait are both quite new to test cricket, therefore if india can face the new ball without losing too many wickets i see the austrailan bowling lacking variety. and it remains to be seen if brett lee can last all 4 tests since they are playing so much cricket. without lee i think india has an awesome chance. so chin up guys......we can do it....chak de india... *my optimisim borders on insanity*

  • Mumbai man in New York on December 20, 2007, 13:54 GMT

    I'm a huge India fan. But let's face it guys. If both teams play to potential, Australia will come up on top at the end of the series. We need our team (more specifically our bowling) to significantly exceed expectations to have a chance. But it's possible ... stranger things have happened ... the Indian team is always good for a few surprises, both positive and negative. They should go out and play with flair and without fear ... if they do that, it's going to be an intriguing series. I can't wait!

  • Paul on December 20, 2007, 13:37 GMT

    I haven't read all the comments above however people seem to be forgetting that the Australian boiling was hit badly by injury during the 03/04 series. Missing McGrath and Warn certainly didn't help Australians chances.

    I know that in this series Australia are down McGrath and Warn but Australia now have 4 fit bowlers capable of taking wickets. In 03/04 no one could replace McGrath and Warne. Not sure but I think the Australians had other injuries in the series also.

    If both teams first 11 stay fit India has no chance.

  • Rohit on December 20, 2007, 12:43 GMT

    I think India have as much of a chance, if not a better chance of beating Australia this time than the last tour in 2003/4.There is no arguing that Zaheer and RP form a more potent seam attack than the previous tour's seamers , and Kumble the chief architect of the drawn series is still going great guns.Unfortunately Sehwag is not in form , but the rest of the batting order is and our keeper is considered one of the rising stars in world cricket.Plenty to look forward to , and though India start as underdogs , it would be foolish to write them off.

  • dinesh on December 20, 2007, 12:38 GMT

    Lets talk of the Indian team. Bowling department first, except for kumble and zaheer, when at his best, the lot is a juicy one for the aussies to build on their figures. Batting on paper and on an aussie pitch is all together a different ball game. If we see the previous auusie tour of the Indians, every batsmen chipped in with atlaest a huge score in one or the other match and the rest supported. That is what helped the team overall. Even if that can happens again, i cannot convince myself of a series win. Drawing two tests atleast is a realistic hope for me talking of Indian batting alone and one win from out of the blue would be a bonus for the cricketing fraternity

  • Prashanth Krishnan on December 20, 2007, 12:33 GMT

    Fantastic! Oh you beauty Kesavan! Boy! Won't this buoy up the Indian spirits! If this doesn't make them pull out something special out of their hat, nothing will. But, after the 1st day in the warm-up test I'm pretty confident of India putting up a great show- they sprung up some surprises, Tendulkar decided to hook and pull- good attacking strategy, and Dravid chose to consolidate his wall image. So they are doing what is expected of them- and they will revive Test Cricket like never before- after a long time.

  • CricketFan on December 20, 2007, 12:32 GMT

    C'mon Mukul, Its too soon to say its doomsday for this form of the game that we all so love. Even if India do lose to the Aussies, I think calling it the end of Test Cricket is being too dramatic. It wasn't so long ago that England won the ashes against this team albeit in their own backyard. I mean look at tennis. Its alive and kicking even though no one comes close to challenging Federer.

  • Susruta on December 20, 2007, 12:24 GMT

    I will only say Sri Lanka almost chased 500 and we have better batsman. Let the games begin.

  • Ralph on December 20, 2007, 12:23 GMT

    I agree - though I would make my point with a little less tabloid sensationalism and a little more reason - that it would be good for test cricket if India beat Australia. But I don't understand why you consider it necessary to wring an anti-colonial jibe into every article.

    Re-read this quote, and convince me that it expresses anything other than residual bitterness:

    "A country as consistently mediocre as England was never going to lead a sustained challenge to Australian hegemony."

  • Ramsundar on December 20, 2007, 11:50 GMT

    Call this an era of domination. Eras don't last. In your whole piece, you've mentioned India's weakness, but totally forgotten about Australia's. If someone like Warne can be smashed, how do you think a lesser bowler like Hogg or possibly McGain will stand against an exceptional batting lineup that masters spin bowling? echo your comments on the current Australian team breaking the record set by the previous generation; it doesn't speak much for the general level of competition at test level. This time, though, it's not so much that they are breaking the record that is concerning, but that they are breaking the record with, essentially, a considerably weaker team.

  • hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh on December 20, 2007, 11:30 GMT

    To be honest this is probaly the strongest indian line up india has probaly had.

    first of all, sachin is in great form, sourav ganguly is in sublime form all this year, jaffer is becoming now consistent, yubvraj, along with ganguly hit a purple patch, laxman record against australia speaks for itself, india has finally got a a briiliant batsmen in wicket keeper dhoni, pathan is a potentially good allrounder, zaheer, is one of the best seam bowlers of the year, RP singh had a briliant tour of england and south africa, and kumble is one of the best spinners of all time. However dravid our best batsmen over the last couple of years in both forms of the games, looks like hes losing concentration when batting very quickly, before when he got in the 30s it would be automatic that he would at least get 50 and a lot of time get big hunderds. but he is a class player and he anchors the indian batting. india hasnt got that fire power at the top with sehwag, but dhoni and yuvraj make up forit

  • Shane on December 20, 2007, 11:29 GMT

    In response to the recurring theme of dominance by one team creating a lack of competitiveness for all others. This is a contradiction. If you are to look at all teams who have played against Australia in Australia and that lost the series, and then analyse thier next series afterward, you will actually see that the dominant team, just by din of thier excellence will cause the other team to achieve a higher standard of play and passion. Many sports have for long periods of time been dominated by one team or one individual. It is these teams and individuals that have truly achieved and discovered rare talents and also strategies and passion that others must aspire to and then embrace, if they are to prevail.

    The fierce international rivalry of national cricket fans has created a negative perception of what is actually the one thing powering international cricket along: one teams brilliance in many areas. Desperation to defeat the reigning champions should not suffocate appreciation.

  • Theena on December 20, 2007, 11:28 GMT

    I think it generally goes without saying; Australia - and this is coming from an ardent admirer of their methods - needs to be dethroned and fast.

    I'll echo your comments on the current Australian team breaking the record set by the previous generation; it doesn't speak much for the general level of competition at test level. This time, though, it's not so much that they are breaking the record that is concerning, but that they are breaking the record with, essentially, a considerably weaker team.

  • Kesava on December 20, 2007, 10:56 GMT

    Gud one mukul..you have highlighted every aspect of our team.Bowling for me is da weakest link...Froget Phil n hussye, Wt abt Hayden n ponting's score at the end of this series?ufff..Already talks are that Ponting is the greatest test batsmen..N playing in Aussie land..you got to bring int he umpiring factor with wtever hits sachin's pad is a LBW..but having said all these..I still have this hope where i strongly feel the awesome fourseom of rahul, sachin, saurav n lax...are going to have a series full of evergreen memories..a strong feeling..As u said MCG holds the key, A draw there..with an inspirational innings similar to saurav's when we toured last time would set the tone..Gud luck India...Chuk de India...Play without fear,lethargy n politics...all da best..:)

  • roy on December 20, 2007, 10:54 GMT

    WELL SAID,I THINK INDIA'S GAME A LOT DEPEND ON THE TOSS!!!IN THE CASE OF OPENING ROBBIN UTHAPPA SHOULD HAVE GIVEN A LOOK IN BECAUSE GAMBIR AND KARTHIK HAVE BEEN GIVEN SEVERAL OPPORTUNITIES! AS NONE OF THE EXPERIENCED BATSMEN WERE NOT READY TO TAKE THE OPENING SPOT!!!SACHIN WANTS OPENING SPOT IN ONE DAYERS BUT NOT IN TESTS!!EVEN YUVRAJ ALSO NOT WILLING TO OPEN !IN THAT CASE SOMBODY LIKE UTHAPPA WHO IS ALWAYS READY TAKE CHALLENGES AND EVEN READY TO BAT AT ANY POSITION WOULD HAVE GIVEN AN OPPORTUNITY!!!

  • Theena on December 20, 2007, 10:51 GMT

    I think it generally goes without saying; Australia - and this is coming from an ardent admirer of their methods - needs to be dethroned and fast.

    I'll echo your comments on the current Australian team breaking the record set by the previous generation; it doesn't speak much for the general level of competition at test level. This time, though, it's not so much that they are breaking the record that is concerning, but that they are breaking the record with, essentially, a considerably weaker team.

  • Vikrant on December 20, 2007, 10:50 GMT

    Surely you are joking, Mr. Kesavan!The predictions are dire and am I glad you are not the coach of this Indian team - for surely they would crumble under the weight of your prophecy and the grim portents that you hold out for the future of cricket should they lose. I personally think that the Australian attack is no better or worse than what it was in 2003/04 - though their batting is certainly formidable Personally I think this will be a series more likely to have draws than win/lose results - though it is possible that due to lack of practice on pitches India have a tough time in Melbourne. I think it will be more one sided in the One day series - where an Indian team - drained after fighting long and hard in a test series and the nonstop cricket of the last 7 months - might just throw in the towel.

  • Suresh Krishnamurthy on December 20, 2007, 10:41 GMT

    Mukul Kesavan is smart and does not want to come across as biased. Which is why he underplays the effect of umpires on the game in the final para. Australians as many have pointed out are at their peak and have put in place processes which will help them remain there. However, invariably every visting team has had to bear the brunt of poor umpiring decisions. None more so than the Indians. In 1999, in Brisbane, Ricky Ponting got a let off when Aussies were 152 for 4, Sachin and Ganguly copped rough decisions when they batted in the first innings. Indians lost that test and never looked like coming back. Same story in Melbourne. Gilchrist was caught and bowled by Kumble but third umpire said not out because he did not have clear pictures.

    One more issue for visiting teams is catching. If visiting teams had held their catches most of these matches would have been far closer than they turned out.

  • vas on December 20, 2007, 10:31 GMT

    Being a little dramatic arent we Mukul?

    Call this an era of domination. Eras don't last. In your whole piece, you've mentioned India's weakness, but totally forgotten about Australia's. If someone like Warne can be smashed, how do you think a lesser bowler like Hogg or possibly McGain will stand against an exceptional batting lineup that masters spin bowling?

    Australia are favourites, and deservedly so. But India have a chance to spring an upset if they play intelligently, and that is a word that doesnt accompany Indian cricket much. But with a skipper like Kumble, they have a chance. To rely on the past success in 03/04 would be to rely on Brett Lee slipping back into old indisciplines. As you and I both know, there is a Brett Lee India will face that is much more threatening than the injury-maligned version of 4 years ago. Sehwag must be given a shot. If it pulls off, he is the one guy that can upset the Australians rhythm, and then its game on. Otherwise its Aussies to win easy.

  • ARR on December 20, 2007, 10:08 GMT

    Comparing Srilankan and Indian Teams, a. Indian Batting Lineup is better suited for Test Cricket - a plus b. Indian Seam Bowling - It is an enigma right now. But going by reputation, Vas, Fernando and Malinga combination is definitely more lethal when compared to Zahir & Co - a minus here c. Can Kumble the bowler do what the great Murali could not? I will start with a minus here.

    The sum total looks scary isn't it? As you rightly said Sambit, it boils down to luck and mental toughness. Let's hope for the best. This is only thing the cricketing world can do.

  • kn on December 20, 2007, 9:37 GMT

    Absolutely spot on analysis. Couldn't agree with you more. I think it is a good idea to open with Dravid, specially if he is willing. The key to success in Autralia is the opening batting and our bowling. If that happens we stand a fair chance of standing up to the aussies. It is boring to see one sided contests - test cricket needs a rivalry like this to hold the interest of the fans.

  • Ashish on December 20, 2007, 9:34 GMT

    Good that you spoke about need for consistency in umpiring. Tendulkar has already suffered by a Paul reiffel howler!

  • Jonathan on December 20, 2007, 9:29 GMT

    Everybody is talking about how weak India's bowling attack is. It wasn't much better last time round. And, Mr Kesavan, you are right that India needs some inspired performances in this area. But the same was true last time out, and if I remember rightly, Agarkar stepped up and provided that inspired moment. I don't see any reason why RP, Ishant or Zaheer couldn't do that this time. Maybe even Pathan (given the chance) or Ganguly!! I expect Kumble will have one good match - rock that he is, he always has at least one good match. I expect little from Harbhajan.

    I just hope it isn't 3-0 or a white-wash (unless it's for India), that would be too much to bear.

  • Simon on December 20, 2007, 9:21 GMT

    England - 'consistently mediocre', post 2005 who could argue but for 3 years prior England were excellent. Appalling injuries have destroyed any chance of the Ashes winning team remaining together. They have also matched India over recent years. India will get hammered I'm afraid and I am a fan of Indian cricket. Concentrate on the facts and dampen down the obvious chauvinism. It smacks on one enormous chip on your shoulder.

  • Manas on December 20, 2007, 9:14 GMT

    Good to know that you teach social history for living. Because clearly your writing sucks. "Captain Kumble holds the future of the long game in his hands." ?? Come on give us a break.

  • Homer on December 20, 2007, 8:56 GMT

    We did not have much of a bowling attack the last time we visited Down Under. Zaheer and Harbhajan were hors de combat, Balaji and Pathan were on thier first tour. Ashish Nehra, Ajit Agarkar,Anil Kumble and, to a lesser extent, Murali Karthik was the bowling "attack". If anything, the bowling looks a lot more solid that the last time around.

    And if the Australians post 600/5, I would back our team to match it - we are better at attritional cricket than we were in 2003.

  • Satish on December 20, 2007, 8:48 GMT

    Nice preview of the series, Mukul. But can't believe that your "Yuvraj-not-good-for-Tests" bias still makes its cursory appearance. Get over it!

  • Face In the Crowd on December 20, 2007, 8:40 GMT

    With such a brittle attack, we, as Indian supporters, have no right to think we can win the series.

    Kumble has been given a pop-gun bowling attack. Also, he has the oldest set of fielders in world cricket. With long boundaries and fast outfields, it can be brutal.

    I hope there is a power failure or cable blackout whenever Australia bats. There is too much blood and gore on TV already.

  • Sesha Agnihotram on December 20, 2007, 8:19 GMT

    I couldn't agree more with your assessment. Aussies definitely have an edge because of their pace attack & fielding. If you leave out the rain-marred Brisbane match, 4-4-1 result for the last 9 test matches played between these two sides tends to indicate parity. However, if you consider the fact that only 3 of those 9 matches were played in Austrlia it is clear that the 4-4-1 thing masks the disparity between these two sides. The fact that India were not able to win, when they toured Australia last time, even with no McGrath and Warne speaks volumes of the Australians. Kumble still remains India's stock and strike bolwer. RP could turn in a good show, but Zaheer & Harbhajan cannot win test matches. If all Indian batsmen do not put their hand up, they could be in for some serious beating. Here's hoping for a lot of interesting and entertaining test match cricket.

  • Sameer Kaul on December 20, 2007, 8:10 GMT

    rightly said,it worries me too greatly whether with the limited resources in the bowling attack whether we can even visualise getting 20 australian wickets,the key will still be the batting,batting well and batting for a no. of sessions.The only weakness we could perceive from the series between Australia and Sri Lanka was that the current australian attack though strong on paper did indeed run out of ideas once their bowlers were made to bowl session after session, except Brett Lee who is still to be fully tested as the spearhead of the attack the rest of the bowlers haven`t needed to bowl long sessions in test cricket,so the indian team`s best bet in being competitive still lies with their batting, if the big 5 can notch up decent scores regularly we could be in for a fascinating summer, if not,well then for an indian fan and indeed for most of the cricket world it will be a long one..

  • Sameer Kaul on December 20, 2007, 8:10 GMT

    rightly said,it worries me too greatly whether with the limited resources in the bowling attack whether we can even visualise getting 20 australian wickets,the key will still be the batting,batting well and batting for a no. of sessions.The only weakness we could perceive from the series between Australia and Sri Lanka was that the current australian attack though strong on paper did indeed run out of ideas once their bowlers were made to bowl session after session, except Brett Lee who is still to be fully tested as the spearhead of the attack the rest of the bowlers haven`t needed to bowl long sessions in test cricket,so the indian team`s best bet in being competitive still lies with their batting, if the big 5 can notch up decent scores regularly we could be in for a fascinating summer, if not,well then for an indian fan and indeed for most of the cricket world it will be a long one..

  • Sam Moorthy on December 20, 2007, 8:04 GMT

    Completely agree that the importance of this series is huge, and possibly goes beyond the immediate results. Pity the BCCI has a different point of view. For if they too had recognised the real significance of this series, we wouldn't have provided the team just one practice match before the real fireworks begin. Number of practice matches played does not show up in Wisden either.

    Once again, we're left with a list of 'ifs' when we evaluate our chances of success. I'm as much an India fan as the next person, but I do not see a team whose performance potentail needs to be read in conjunction with a list of sub-clauses coming anywhere near stopping Australia setting a new record - I'm not even looking at leveling the series or winning it. I sincerely hope Anil Kumble and his men prove me wrong.

  • Saumil on December 20, 2007, 8:01 GMT

    Good article, but the Indian bowling is weak and the batting is aging. They stand no chance of even being competitive against Australia in the upcoming series. Scoring heavily on placid Indian pitches against a weak Pakistan bowling is one thing and taking on the Aussies in their own backyard is another.

  • sudhakar on December 20, 2007, 7:56 GMT

    india will loose the first game in melbourne,as they r used to it for ages,loosing the first match of a series.sydney will be a draw.perth will be a disastor.they r going to loose again in adelaide.the result is 3-0 in favor of australia.simply because we cant take 20 aussie wickets.

  • Sridhar on December 20, 2007, 7:44 GMT

    Mukul, much as it is likely that India will lose, I don't think it is the end of test cricket. What will be the end of test cricket is if we continue to prepare pitches which don't give bowlers a chance(Like Ind Vs Pak in Kolkatta, Bangalore, SL vs England in Colombo). Michael Vaughan was contemptous in his statement that "it was the easiest draw possible".A contest between lesser but more evenly matched international sides can also be quite exciting if the bowlers are given a chance. Otherwise, none wants to watch a one - sided game where two teams score more than 500 each and consume the entire time in monotonous batting. The best Indians can hope for is a draw - if the batting fires on all cylinders. Somehow, I feel Saurav Ganguly will be the key batsman for India this time around.

  • Rajesh NJ on December 20, 2007, 7:24 GMT

    One of the most crucial things for India is the openers doing well, especially Wasim Jaffer who has got all the credentials to do the opening job competently down under.

    Laxman & Dravid, along with of course the great Sachin Tendulkar are the one who would be the most crucial to Indian's plans. These batsmen have it in them to post big scores which would put Australia under pressure.

    A lot has been said about India's weak bowling and in all honesty it does seem weak but the success of the batsmen will have a more significant effect on the outcome of the series. If India can out-bat Australia then it would be the Aussies who would be under pressure because for the home team a draw in the test series would be akin to failure. By posting big scores India can then pressurize the Aussie batsmen even with a weak bowling attack.

    But the most crucial thing is that India should not play with the fear of failure. That may well decide he performance of individuals as well as the collectively !

  • Wayne on December 20, 2007, 7:10 GMT

    Realistically, if India do somehow win the series it only squares up for their loss at home on Australia's last tour. Realism does not enter the equation for most fans though (viewing a drawn series as a major achievement, when the opposition had half their bowling attack missing, would not happen in Australia). I fully expect Australia's decade plus of dominance and litany of achievements to be instantly forgotten, and India to be proclaimed the overriding world champion of the game should they win. But then, back to reality for a moment, Sri Lanka recently took 11 wickets in 330 or so overs with arguably a better bowling attack than India, so India will rely heavily on Australia's declarations. India do themselves no favours by making big statements in the press either ... it's different to McGrath etc because he could back it up. It's like sri lanka saying they can handle pace and bouncy pitches .. by the time they were 4/60 in their first innings, the words don't count for much.

  • abhishek on December 20, 2007, 7:02 GMT

    too many if's and but's...it's amazing how people try all permutations and combinations...

  • prasanth on December 20, 2007, 6:50 GMT

    brilliant compilation and well said..kudos mukul!! This is quite practical thinking on how aussies is leading the game cricket now adays..It is very important to give life to cricket in order to entertain millions of fans over coming years other wise the game will die and people only wait for colour dressed games hoping some luck may favour against australia as a short format game. People tend to stand against australia and started cheering any team who takes australia..and wanted to win against the almighty. I feel even Roger looks some time rusty by exposing his weakness..but this team game cricket australia had so may cover ups and hence they never expose weak ness. The only weak ness for australia i think is boredom of players..they may get bored in coming years and dying to see some competitive cricket and hence may loose some concetration to leave way to other teams..if the day comes i think its good as saying cricket is dead which i dont want to see..i want to see game above!!

  • srivats on December 20, 2007, 6:46 GMT

    superb writing mukul...You are abs right,If India loose the toss and bowls 1st ...I see a white wash...We need our fab four to bat with no pressure in order to see some tall scores...and eventually put some pressure on the aussies batting line up...

  • Tahir Rashid on December 20, 2007, 6:36 GMT

    India has the batting line-up to put runs on the board but bowling attack looks depleted with Captain Anil Kumble only looking above par. My prediction for the series 3-0 to Aussies (can be 4-0 too) but I am giving the benefit of doubt to the Indians.

  • Maverick on December 20, 2007, 6:26 GMT

    what a load of crap about your team trying to be a 'savior' of test cricket - to attract more supporters? if there is anyone who has saved test cricket, it is The BaggyGreens....more power to them, 4-0 would be sweet justice served to these pampered, arrogant indians.. & hope the crowd really gets under the desi skin...payback in kind for our shoddy treatment @ mumbai

  • Rumeli on December 20, 2007, 6:23 GMT

    I think asking Rahul Dravid to open the innings is not fair because we do not have a reliable player in no. 3 position although Laxman used to come at one down. I think we are taking things for granted with Rahul Dravid by opening the innings when you have 2 openers present. If you did not give chance to Sehwag and Karthik, what is the need for selecting them? We are making mess of things. Can you ever see Kallis or Ponting or Lara coming as opener even though their teams have opener problem at some stage especially with WI.

  • Prabhu on December 20, 2007, 6:19 GMT

    More than the record of consecutive wins, this series going to produce the real test for Indian teams appetite for success. So every match in this series going to be a record breaking one

  • Aditya on December 20, 2007, 6:16 GMT

    Good article, Mukul...but don't write off the Indian team just yet. Yes, many people don't give us a chance, and I can see the reasons why, but given that, I think we are just as capable of challenging Australia as we were last time.

  • Aakash Desai on December 20, 2007, 6:11 GMT

    Mr. Kesevan, Well said. As you mentioned, last time we "nearly" won it all, but nearly is not enough, hopefully this time, with a skipper in Jumbo, who is willing to stand up to selectorial pressures, WE hope he does the right thing, firstly by picking the right team. for example, I believe that Jaffer and Karthik have to open, because Karthik, is much more comfortable on bouncier wickets, and that will allow him to play his natural game, while Jaffer can be the man of brilliance that he is, (he needs to use his feet a bit more though), and as long as we keep the overrated Offspinner on the sidelines, we should have no problems in coming close to taking the series.

  • Puneet on December 20, 2007, 6:08 GMT

    Indian cricket fans (myself included) are 'sanely' optimistic bunch of people. And why not, we won the world cup when nobody gave us an outside chance and then won 20/20 cup when we were ousted in the first round in WC. So, while it is still within the boundry of 'sanity' that we hope for an Indian win - it seems highly unlikely. Infact even to draw the series would be a huge favor to not only indian fans but to the overall world cricket. Let us continue to hope within the reins of sanity..

  • Mark Gore on December 20, 2007, 6:08 GMT

    Let me repeat the cliched statement once again: You need to take 20 wickets to win a test match. Now I look at the bowlers India would have at MCG and try to split the 20 wickets: Kumble : Lets park him for the time being Zaheer: 4-5 RP: 3-4 Irfan: 2-3 So if we add the best case scenarios for each, we get a total of 12. Thant means Kumble has to take 8-12 wickets in atleast 2 matches for India to have a good shot at victory. It simply means, he has to return back with a bag of 30 wickets in the series. That may be impossible given the sheer quality of Kumble's spin players in Australian line-up (Clarke, Hayden, Hussey, Symonds and Gilchrist). What saddens me as a big fan of Indian cricket is an absolute lack of a fast bowling match winner over so many years. Its curious isn't it? A country where sports is equated with cricket(Countries like Toga and Burundi get more Olympic medals than India) failed to produce a single fast bowling match winner (with due respects to Kapil Dev).

  • Aditya Mookerjee on December 20, 2007, 6:06 GMT

    I agree with what you write, Mukul. I must add, that there is less uncertainty, in the minds of the Indian Team, unlike the start of the last tour. Ganguly was a Nelson like captain, ready to go down with the ship, such was his determination. However, Kumble is the same, with a difference. He is a tireless trier. This attitude germinates from his being an eternal optimist. He may be better for us than Ganguly was, sacrilege as it might sound.

  • plus1 on December 20, 2007, 5:55 GMT

    mukul, i do not think that the indian team has a hope in hell of winning this series. What is really telling, though, is the "rest of the world" mentality, shown in this piece; we would rather the standard of cricket decrease in order to make the tests more competitive. The best team should, and usually does, always win, and even if india do manage to upset australia, it will simply remain an "upset".

    We have to accept that the rest of the world's cricketing facilities, domestic competitions and sporting mentality will need to be bettered in order to compete with these guys.

    Long let australia win every single game they play, until we see a rival worthy of beating them. That is what world cricket needs, an improvement in standard, not a decrease, that is what will save test cricket - it is simply survival of the fittest.

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  • plus1 on December 20, 2007, 5:55 GMT

    mukul, i do not think that the indian team has a hope in hell of winning this series. What is really telling, though, is the "rest of the world" mentality, shown in this piece; we would rather the standard of cricket decrease in order to make the tests more competitive. The best team should, and usually does, always win, and even if india do manage to upset australia, it will simply remain an "upset".

    We have to accept that the rest of the world's cricketing facilities, domestic competitions and sporting mentality will need to be bettered in order to compete with these guys.

    Long let australia win every single game they play, until we see a rival worthy of beating them. That is what world cricket needs, an improvement in standard, not a decrease, that is what will save test cricket - it is simply survival of the fittest.

  • Aditya Mookerjee on December 20, 2007, 6:06 GMT

    I agree with what you write, Mukul. I must add, that there is less uncertainty, in the minds of the Indian Team, unlike the start of the last tour. Ganguly was a Nelson like captain, ready to go down with the ship, such was his determination. However, Kumble is the same, with a difference. He is a tireless trier. This attitude germinates from his being an eternal optimist. He may be better for us than Ganguly was, sacrilege as it might sound.

  • Mark Gore on December 20, 2007, 6:08 GMT

    Let me repeat the cliched statement once again: You need to take 20 wickets to win a test match. Now I look at the bowlers India would have at MCG and try to split the 20 wickets: Kumble : Lets park him for the time being Zaheer: 4-5 RP: 3-4 Irfan: 2-3 So if we add the best case scenarios for each, we get a total of 12. Thant means Kumble has to take 8-12 wickets in atleast 2 matches for India to have a good shot at victory. It simply means, he has to return back with a bag of 30 wickets in the series. That may be impossible given the sheer quality of Kumble's spin players in Australian line-up (Clarke, Hayden, Hussey, Symonds and Gilchrist). What saddens me as a big fan of Indian cricket is an absolute lack of a fast bowling match winner over so many years. Its curious isn't it? A country where sports is equated with cricket(Countries like Toga and Burundi get more Olympic medals than India) failed to produce a single fast bowling match winner (with due respects to Kapil Dev).

  • Puneet on December 20, 2007, 6:08 GMT

    Indian cricket fans (myself included) are 'sanely' optimistic bunch of people. And why not, we won the world cup when nobody gave us an outside chance and then won 20/20 cup when we were ousted in the first round in WC. So, while it is still within the boundry of 'sanity' that we hope for an Indian win - it seems highly unlikely. Infact even to draw the series would be a huge favor to not only indian fans but to the overall world cricket. Let us continue to hope within the reins of sanity..

  • Aakash Desai on December 20, 2007, 6:11 GMT

    Mr. Kesevan, Well said. As you mentioned, last time we "nearly" won it all, but nearly is not enough, hopefully this time, with a skipper in Jumbo, who is willing to stand up to selectorial pressures, WE hope he does the right thing, firstly by picking the right team. for example, I believe that Jaffer and Karthik have to open, because Karthik, is much more comfortable on bouncier wickets, and that will allow him to play his natural game, while Jaffer can be the man of brilliance that he is, (he needs to use his feet a bit more though), and as long as we keep the overrated Offspinner on the sidelines, we should have no problems in coming close to taking the series.

  • Aditya on December 20, 2007, 6:16 GMT

    Good article, Mukul...but don't write off the Indian team just yet. Yes, many people don't give us a chance, and I can see the reasons why, but given that, I think we are just as capable of challenging Australia as we were last time.

  • Prabhu on December 20, 2007, 6:19 GMT

    More than the record of consecutive wins, this series going to produce the real test for Indian teams appetite for success. So every match in this series going to be a record breaking one

  • Rumeli on December 20, 2007, 6:23 GMT

    I think asking Rahul Dravid to open the innings is not fair because we do not have a reliable player in no. 3 position although Laxman used to come at one down. I think we are taking things for granted with Rahul Dravid by opening the innings when you have 2 openers present. If you did not give chance to Sehwag and Karthik, what is the need for selecting them? We are making mess of things. Can you ever see Kallis or Ponting or Lara coming as opener even though their teams have opener problem at some stage especially with WI.

  • Maverick on December 20, 2007, 6:26 GMT

    what a load of crap about your team trying to be a 'savior' of test cricket - to attract more supporters? if there is anyone who has saved test cricket, it is The BaggyGreens....more power to them, 4-0 would be sweet justice served to these pampered, arrogant indians.. & hope the crowd really gets under the desi skin...payback in kind for our shoddy treatment @ mumbai

  • Tahir Rashid on December 20, 2007, 6:36 GMT

    India has the batting line-up to put runs on the board but bowling attack looks depleted with Captain Anil Kumble only looking above par. My prediction for the series 3-0 to Aussies (can be 4-0 too) but I am giving the benefit of doubt to the Indians.