There were no big statements, no challenges thrown at the opposition from the Australian team. In their opening address at the start of the Indian tour, both the Australian captain, Steve Smith, and coach, Darren Lehmann, restricted themselves to terming the Test series as a great challenge.
“We are very excited about this tour, it is going to be a difficult challenge. India is a very good team, we have prepared very well and hopefully the players can be successful,” said Smith.
The Australian captain admitted the key to the series will be how his batsmen negotiate the threat of Ravichandran Ashwin and how his bowlers measure up against Virat Kohli, who has been in magnificent form.
“We are trying to form a gameplan (against Kohli), obviously I am not going to tell about it; he is a world class player and is batting very well, has got four double hundreds in his last four series. He is a key player for India, but, they have a strong top six,” said Smith, when asked about his coach’s statement that Australia don’t really have a gameplan to stop Kohli.
About the other threat his team faces, in Ashwin, Smith said: “All of our batsmen will have our gameplan to counter what Ashwin brings. He is a world class bowler and he will be difficult to play, but our guys will have our plans.”
While agreeing that playing spin well will be important, the Australians were equally wary of the threat posed by the Indian fast bowling attack. The likes of Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have proven their worth so far in the long home season, playing their part in wins against New Zealand, England and Bangladesh.
“It is not only (about) spinners, but they have some great fast bowlers,” said Smith, while talking about the importance of balancing between attack and defence for his batsmen to be successful.
Known for their aggressive brand of cricket, which includes trying to rattle the oppositions with verbal volleys, sparks are expected to fly in the four-Test contest.
Smith gave his players the license to go for it, but reminded it wouldn’t help in the final context unless backed by skills. “It works for some guys and they can try that but in the end it is about playing on skills, that is the best way to succeed in these conditions.”
The odds are staked heavily against the tourists, the last time they player here they were whitewashed 0-4. “If we can win here, when we look back after 20 years it is going to be the best time of lives.”