India world-class team but have to be at their best to beat Australia on home soil: Michael Hussey

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India recorded their first-ever Test series win Down Under in 2018-19 with a 2-1 victory.

Former Australian cricketer Michael Hussey on Tuesday opined that the return of Steve Smith and David Warner to the Australian side will make life difficult for the visiting Indian side in the impending Border-Gavaskar series. Hussey added that the defending champions may be a “world class” team but will have to bring out their best to beat this Australian side in their own backyard.  

Smith and Warner missed India’s historic away Test series win over Australia in 2018 because of their one-year bans for their involvement in the infamous ball-tampering episode in South Africa. In the absence of the duo, India recorded their first-ever Test series win Down Under in 2018-19 with a 2-1 victory.

“Obviously, bringing back Smith and Warner into the team is huge, but the guys that were exposed and perhaps probably weren’t quite ready at the time from two years ago, have now managed to get a number of Test matches under their belt…India are going to be up for a stiff challenge in Australia this summer,” Hussey said in a chat show on Sony Ten’s Pit Stop.

“Put that with a world-class bowling attack in Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazelwood and (James) Pattinson as well with Nathan Lyon…I think the team looks extremely strong, they are playing some excellent Test cricket. We know India are a world-class team, but they have to be at their best to beat the Australian team on home soil.”

Hussey feels the absence of the two key batsmen, Smith and Warner, exposed the young Australians to the rigours of Test cricket.

“They basically had to either sink or swim and someone like (Travis) Head I think has really shown a lot of character, a lot of guts and a lot of fight in grabbing hold of his opportunity and he’s performed pretty well,” he said.

Post the sandpaper gate scandal, Hussey feels the Australian team has worked extremely hard to gain their respect back.

“The team copped up a lot of stick, lost a lot of respect in the cricket community here in Australia and all around the world. They’ve worked extremely hard over the last couple of years to gain the respect back from the cricket community, by the way they play and the way they conduct themselves and I think Tim Paine’s led that really well,” he said.

Besides the duo, Australia’s dominating stats too reveal that India would have to come altogether with bigger plan to outsmart the hosts.

The Aussies will take on India with the opener on December 3 at the Gabba, a venue where the hosts have won 31 consecutive games dating back to 1988, the longest active unbeaten streak in Tests at a particular venue. 

The second Test will be held at Adelaide on December 11-15 which is slated to be a pink-ball Test. This will be their first pick-ball meeting and India’s first on overseas soil. India had played their inaugural and only pick-ball Test in November last year at home against Bangladesh with the hosts clinching an emphatic win. But the Aussies are a different force altogether in day-night Tests having lost none in seven matches they have played so far with Mitchell Starc averaging below 20 with 42 scalps. 

The Boxing Day Test and New Year’s Tests will be held at Melbourne and Sydney respectively. 

(with PTI inputs)

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