'Hope Rishabh Pant gets a nice run with the Test side' - Gilchrist
With India's tour of England coming to an end, there's now a buzz around their tour of Australia in November, where they will play four Tests and a limited-overs series. If Adam Gilchrist, the Australian great, is to be believed, the tour may be shaped up by how Australia's replacements for David Warner and Steven Smith, who are in the middle of a year-long ban for the Newlands ball-tampering scandal, can step up and perform.
"It's a big setback to lose your highest run-scorers for a few years, to lose two people who have scored a high percentage of your runs, so that's going to be the challenge for our guys against India," Gilchrist told ESPNcricinfo in Bengaluru. "It's a great opportunity for a few people, to come in and fill the void, but they're big shoes to fill and that will have a big impact on the series. The big challenge for Australia will be to get the runs that their pacers and Nathan Lyon can defend.
"In hindsight, and certainly after the time that has passed, the general feeling is that the punishment was a bit too harsh. But at the time everyone was really upset by it and everyone wanted stern action to be taken.
"But what I'm really impressed by is how the fantastic the players have accepted it. They've shown the cricketing world that they know they did the wrong thing and they've copped a harsh ban, but they've just got to move on with it and return as better people and players."
Of particular interest, Gilchrist thinks, will be the battle between the quicks from both sides. In saying that, he's been impressed with how India's fast bowlers have performed in England.
"In England, they've shown the potential to rip through the batting line-up," Gilchrist said. "And they're all fit, strong and aggressive young men so those are all the virtues you need to take on Australia in Australia.
"And from an Australian perspective, we have (Mitchell) Starc, backed up by Pat Cummins, who is outstanding, and (Josh) Hazlewood is almost (Glenn) McGrath like with his methodic repetitious bowling, so there's three guys there, and there are a couple in the wings as well. As the series goes on, we're going to find out who has the better pace attack, and that is going to be the most intriguing part of the series."
Gilchrist was also empathetic towards India's struggle to find a permanent wicketkeeper-batsman after MS Dhoni's Test retirement in December 2014, but said that the Indian selectors must exercise caution on how they pick and drop players.
He's seen Australia adopt the revolving door policy since Brad Haddin's retirement in 2015. Australia have tried Graham Manou, Matthew Wade, Peter Nevill and Peter Handscomb, before eventually recalling Tim Paine. It's a mistake he hopes India don't make, calling for them to instead be patient with Rishabh Pant. The 20-year old wicketkeeper so far has scores of 24, 1, 0, 18 and 5 in five Test innings.
"It may take some chopping and changing, but if you churn through players too quickly, it can leave a psychological scar on their minds," Gilchrist said. "And that can limit their efforts in producing their best. So hopefully Pant gets a nice run with the Test side.
"It's like when Shane Warne finished, it left such a big hole in the team because of the quality of player and person that Shane was. And it was the same in India when the big batting four departed. So they're not easy gaps to fill, and Dhoni's been as good as any in the keeper-batsman category."