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Playing in India a huge challenge: Johnson

cricket Updated: Sep 22, 2010 23:55 IST
Ashutosh Sharma
Ashutosh Sharma
Hindustan Times
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Mitchell Johnson believes playing in India is a huge challenge notwithstanding the fact that the hosts are the No 1 side in Tests.

Johnson, who has been an integral part of the Australia side since his debut in 2007, said the conditions, weather and grounds play a crucial part in the sub-continent.

“It is pretty challenging. The pitches don’t have the bounce that we are used to back home and there is less assistance. India are a hugely experienced side who put more pressure on bowlers to bowl well. The heat and humidity also play a part,” said Johnson after a gym session at the Sector 16 Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.

The visitors were scheduled to have a net session but incessant rain since Tuesday night forced them to have a light workout in the gym.

In the 2008 series, Johnson started off by grabbing five wickets in the drawn first Test at Bangalore, but by the end of the fourth match his bowling had lost its sting. He picked up 13 wickets in the series.

“Bowling to Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and V.V.S. Laxman is never easy. I am not a believer in rankings but still the experience these guys have makes it tough for the opposition bowlers,” he said.

Like the previous series, Johnson will again be at the helm of the attack. “There is pressure when you are leading the attack but I am ready for it. I have spoken to the coaches at length about my role and will be happy to guide the youngsters who are travelling with the team. On their part, they are also keen to learn,” said the left-arm pacer from Queensland. Johnson has 158 Test wickets from 36 matches.

The series is being played prior to the Ashes and will be followed by the World Cup in the sub-continent and Johnson feels it’s about getting into the groove for upcoming challenges.

“We have a very important series ahead and the trip here will help us in not only getting good exposure but also the experience as playing in India is always tough. We want to win here,” he said.

Johnson is one of the few players who gave the cash-rich Indian Premier League a miss to conserve himself for the rigours of international cricket. It’s a decision he believes will help him in the long run.

“For a guy like me who is representing his country in all three formats, you have to maintain a balance. It was a conscious effort by the Board and players to rest and get time away so that when they come back they are fresh and ready to play,” he said.