INDIA CRICKET TOUR
Australia are still Ajinkya Rahane’s favourites to beat India
Many pundits have tipped India to end their 70-year wait for a first Test series triumph in Australia
Sydney — Australia are still favourites to win the four-Test series against India even without Steve Smith and David Warner due to their strong bowling attack, Ajinkya Rahane said on Tuesday.
Many pundits have tipped India to end their 70-year wait for a first Test series triumph in Australia after top Australian batsmen Smith and Warner were banned for a year in the aftermath of March’s ball-tampering scandal in SA.
Rahane, however, was keen to throw the pressure of expectation back on the hosts when the much-anticipated series gets under way in Adelaide on Thursday, and scoffed when he was asked whether Australia would be ripe for the picking.
“Not really,” the India vice-captain said.
“I feel any team that plays at home, they feel really good, and I feel that Australia are still the favourites to win the series.
“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 …. 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 really still the favourites.”
Although not quite reaching the heights of captain Virat Kohli’s 692 runs, Rahane had a good tour the last time India visited Australia in 2014/2015 with 399 runs at an average of 57.
India still lost the series 2-0, however, and the 30-year-old suggested the players learned the importance of contributing to the team effort on that trip.
“When you do well as a team, you feel really good,” he added. “This is a team sport … and it is the job of each bat to contribute for the team.
“It’s important that we get those long partnerships together, in Australia that will really help us a lot.”
Rahane and Kohli did that in the Boxing Day Test on the last tour, putting together a fourth-wicket stand of 262 in India’s first innings with scores of 147 and 169 while illustrating their different approaches.
“Last time here, we really enjoyed batting together a lot, especially at the MCG,” Rahane said. “Mitchell Johnson was really going after Virat Kohli and I was at the other end playing my game. Virat at the other end was really aggressive and going after bowlers.
“I was able to focus on my game, I still attacked but I was completely the opposite to Virat,” Rahane said.