Although winning in India would require a huge amount of effort from the Australians, they are taking heart from the fact that three of the four Tests will be played at new venues. Their line of thinking is that, it will negate India’s home advantage to a large extent, for the conditions will be new for both sides, as Australia’s Glen Maxwell had alluded to at a press conference at the start of the month.
Of the four Tests, India play their opener at the MCA stadium in Pune, which was recently given the status of a Test venue, while the third and fourth Tests will take place in Ranchi and Dharamsala, respectively.
However, former India great Chandu Borde feels that the hosts will emerge stronger as the series progresses, even though the three Tests are being played at new venues. More than that, Borde feels the new centres will help India get many more good Test cricketers. “It’s wonderful that this series will see so many new stadiums. Mark my words, we will get many good Test cricketers from these places in the future,” says the veteran of 55 Tests, going strong at 82.
“It’s all about exposure and budding cricketers will benefit from getting to watch Test cricket,” says Borde, who was Indian batting’s mainstay in the 1960s and the only Indian in the ‘Rest of The World’ team that played Barbados in a commemoration match in 1967.
“During our time, eight players used to be from Bombay. Test matches were then played mostly in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Kanpur and Delhi.
Though ODIs have been played at all three centres, but Borde says Test cricket is a different ball game. “I am really excited about the first-ever Test at Pune. What better than to have two giants of world cricket play the inaugural game. India vs Australia is a fierce rivalry, and should have a title like ‘Battle of Roses’ (Yorkshire vs Lancashire in England). It will be fascinating to see the first day’s action when the two giants try to establish early superiority.”
Borde feels that though the foundation of a cricketer is laid in academies, the implementation of his skills is a different ball game. “At the international level, the conditions, atmosphere, expectations, pressure and so many other factors come into play. Our boys will also get to experience these finer nuances of Test cricket in this game.
“Good cricketers learn by watching more than actual coaching. I learnt so much from watching West Indies batmen when they came to play here in 1958-59. Their on-side strokes, especially the on-drives… I learnt those things and implemented them in my game,” recalls Borde, who had a repertoire of strokes in his armoury.
Borde has been a part of every era of Indian cricket since the 1940s in various capacities and is equally proud of his state’s cricketing history. “Even though Pune didn’t get any Tests to host, it remained one of the main centres of Indian cricket. A lot of great players played for Maharashtra. Vijay Hazare in the 1940s and 50s used to be what Virat Kohli is today. I was fortunate to see him play and the similarity (with Kohli) can be seen in the way the skipper almost always finds the middle of the bat,” says Borde.
Despite prediction of an easy win for India, Borde feels it will be an “intensely fought series”. “The Australians are very good fighters, they don’t give up.” Another quality, which he feels, youngsters in the team will relish.
Something to cheer
Borde is also happy that at last there is something to cheer for Maharashtra cricket. While no Test cricketer of note has made it to the squad after him, Kedar Jadhav has recently broken into the one-day side. The likes of Surendra Bhave (first-class average 58.18)), Shantanu Sugwekar (63.10) and Shrikant Kalyani (49.65), in the 1980s, Borde says were very good, but no one could make the Test grade.
But he feels the boys will certainly get inspired from the likes of Virat Kohli and R Ashwin.