Cricket: Australia and India renew old rivalries Down Under
Rahane insists hosts are favourites
Australia will be without the banned duo of Steve Smith and David Warner but India deputy skipper Ajinkya Rahane believes the hosts remain the favourites for the four-match Test series which gets underway on Thursday.
Virat Kohli and his men have been touted as favourites to win the Test battle by many pundits and former players in the absence of Australia’s two best batsmen.
Both Smith and Warner continue to serve their one-year bans for the involvement in the infamous balltampering scandal but Rahane feels Australia will still start as favourites in front of their home fans.
“Not really,” Rahane told reporters in Adelaide when asked if Australia will struggle to cope with the absence of the two batting stalwarts.
“I feel that any team that plays at home, they feel really good, and I feel that Australia are still the favourites to win the series,” he continued.
“We are not going to take them lightly at all. Yes, they will miss Steve Smith and David Warner but I don’t think they are vulnerable.
“You see their bowling attack, they’ve got a really good bowling attack, and I think to win Test matches, you need to have a really good bowling attack. So I feel that Australia are still the favourites.”
India’s batsmen will be under the scanner Down Under following their poor displays in the tours of South Africa and England.
According to Rahane, building long partnerships will be the key for the tourists if they are to win a maiden Test series on Australian soil.
“When you do well as a team, you feel really good,” said Rahane.
“This is a team sport … and it is the job of each and every bat to contribute for the team. And I think it’s important that we get those long partnerships together, in Australia that will really help us a lot.”
The two teams will begin their Test battle at the Adelaide Oval from Thursday.
Virat Kohli is at the top of his game but he must get his other batters to perform if he is to grab the crowning glory of India’s first Test series victory in Australia, according to veteran journalist Ayaz Memon.
“Apart from Kohli himself no other batsman is making runs. So one man’s show is not likely to win you a series overseas,” Memon told AFP.
“Kohli’s challenge is to get the best out of his batsmen and seize the winning moments which India has failed to latch on to.”
India’s dismal record Down Under, which started with a crushing series loss to Don Bradman’s side in 1948, is just five wins in 44 Tests.
Kohli is confident that now is the time to buck the that trend.
“Looking at how much experience we have gained in the four years since we have last been here, and how the team has played, we definitely feel we have what it takes to win Test matches away from home,” he said in an interview with Macquarie Radio.
“And, hopefully, this time around, a full series,” he added.