'If Australia play well, India will win 3-0' - Harbhajan
Harbhajan Singh said Australia don't stand a chance in the four-match Test series against India, especially if spin-friendly pitches are laid out. He also felt Australia's inexperienced batsmen lacked the quality of their predecessors like Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Adam Gilchrist.
"If Australia play well, India will win 3-0. That is if Australia play well. Otherwise, 4-0," Harbhajan was quoted as saying by the New Daily. "I don't think the wickets [in India] are going to be that easy for them. If the ball starts spinning from the first ball, I don't think they will survive for long.
"Players like [Matthew] Hayden, Gilchrist, Ponting, [Damien] Martyn, [Michael] Clarke were all top-class batters. This team - apart from [David] Warner and [Steve] Smith - I don't think they will be able to play the game they play in Australian conditions, here in India. It is going to be a tough series for them."
Australia's spin attack is led by Nathan Lyon, who has 228 Test wickets, but the rest of the group - Steve O'Keefe (four Tests), Ashton Agar (two) and uncapped legspinner Mitchell Swepson - are thin on experience. While R Ashwin felt Australia's spinners couldn't be taken lightly, Harbhajan said they would find it difficult to bowl the right speeds on Indian pitches.
"I don't think they have the quality to do so. It is different bowling here and bowling there [Australia]," he added. "The speed [off the pitch] is different - they will have to adjust to that.
"You don't get that in Australia but here you get a lot of help, so from the first ball you need to bowl that correct speed. Not many spinners have done [that] in India for the last 15 years. Only [Monty] Panesar and [Graeme] Swann did it but nobody else."
Upon Australia's arrival, Smith had said he would let individuals decide if they wanted to engage in verbal jousting with India on the field.
"If they want to sledge, then they better be prepared for a lot of stuff from this Indian side," he said. "This Indian team is not going to sit back and listen. All I can say is good luck to Australia if they want to play that way."
Harbhajan, who last played a Test in 2015, is India's most successful offspinner. With 95 wickets from 18 Tests, including a breakout series in 2001 where he claimed 32 wickets to engineer India's historic triumph, he was for a long time Australia's bête noire.