India could face 4-0 loss in Australia - McGrath
Former Australia fast bowler Glenn McGrath has suggested that India are likely to cop another 4-0 Test series loss in Australia unless they improve on all aspects of their cricket. India play four Tests against the hosts from December 2014 to January 2015, followed by an ODI tri-series that also features England.
McGrath told ESPNcricinfo that India would be under severe pressure if Australia play with the same intensity as their 5-0 thrashing of England during the Ashes at home last year.
"For India to be competitive in the upcoming Australia series, a lot of things have to change. We saw, as you mentioned, England when they toured Australia last year, they were well and truly beaten 5-0. Now they have well and truly beaten India 3-1. It's going to be a tough series for India in Australia," McGrath said.
"If Australia play anywhere near as they have been, then they are going to be really tough to beat. To be honest, I can't see India winning a Test match, so my prediction is as it usually is - I predict Australia to win and win 4-0. It's up to the Indian team to prove me wrong and to somehow find some way to turn around their form. Their fielding, their batting, their bowling [to a degree], they've got a lot of work to do in the next few months."
McGrath termed India's performance in the Tests against England as "ordinary" and said the losses could be put down to a matter of getting the basics right, like converting the opportunities that the bowlers create.
"It could have been better, no doubt about that. I have enjoyed Varun Aaron coming in, bowling with a bit more pace. Ishant Sharma has always promised a lot, he's still taking wickets, but unfortunately, he's had a few injury worries, his pace has dropped down. Pankaj Singh looks raw but has a lot of potential. As a unit they could have bowled better but they did create quite a few chances. That's what you have to do at that level. But you can't afford to drop 3-4 catches in every Test match. If you do that, you're not going to win any. Overall, the bowling was 7-7.5 out of 10."
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who finished as the side's leading wicket-taker with 19 dismissals, was one of the stand-out performers for India in the Tests.
"He's done well. [He] bowls pretty good areas, he swings the ball and has got the knack of taking wickets, too. So it's all about playing at this level, being successful, believing in yourself and then being able to improve and learn from every game you play."
McGrath pointed out that one of the main issues India face on overseas tours is the lack of a quality fast bowler. He said that Varun Aaron had shown the potential to fill that void but urged him not to trade his pace for something else. Aaron's intensity was impressive in the two Tests that he played in England, taking five wickets.
"I think India's biggest problem has always been that they haven't got an express, out-and-out fast bowler," McGrath said. "I mentioned Varun Aaron, who bowls good pace, but the rest, you can say, are probably medium-pacers, so then you've got to be able to swing the ball, you've got to be able to build pressure.
"I've done a bit of work with Varun at the MRF pace foundation. I've been impressed with his attitude and the way he goes about things. The thing that is special about him is that pace. He has to bowl 145-plus, up around that 150 km mark. He can't afford to lose that, so the one thing he doesn't want to do, and what most bowlers really shouldn't be doing, is trading pace for something else. You need that control, no doubt about that, but you need to keep what makes you so special. So for someone like Varun Aaron, he needs to be bowling 145-150 kph for him to be in the Indian team."
Glenn McGrath was in India on behalf of Tourism Australia to invite Indians to visit and experience Australia during next year's World Cup