Ravichandran Ashwin is the Don Bradman of bowling, Aussies beware: Steve Waugh | cricket | Hindustan Times
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Ravichandran Ashwin is the Don Bradman of bowling, Aussies beware: Steve Waugh

Steve Waugh hailed Ravichandran Ashwin as one of the best spinners of all time and called him the Don Bradman of bowling.

cricket Updated: Feb 14, 2017 23:17 IST
Soumitra Bose
Steve Waugh has hailed Ravichandran Ashwin as the ‘Don Bradman of spin bowling’.
Steve Waugh has hailed Ravichandran Ashwin as the ‘Don Bradman of spin bowling’.(BCCI)

By the sheer dint of their record 19-Test unbeaten streak and the formidable home run in the last couple of years, India may start as Goliath, but Australia will be no David, said Steve Waugh in Monaco on Tuesday.

The former Aussie skipper even suggested that there could even be an upset, if Steve Smith’s men made a good start in the first Test starting in Pune on February 23.

India and Australia will clash in three more Test matches with Bangalore hosting the second. Ranchi and Dharamsala will be the new centres and Waugh says Australia must not leave it for the last in venues that are largely unknown.

READ | Could this be the greatest India team of all time?

Steve Waugh, still lean and fighting fit at 51, is in Monaco as a long-serving brand ambassador of the Laureus Academy. The annual Laureus world awards, regarded as the Oscars of sports, will be announced on Tuesday night. The Australian captain spoke on the upcoming India vs Australia series. Excerpts:

On Virat Kohli’s formidable India team:

India is very hard to beat in India and that has been proved in the last couple years. They are very settled side and everyone is confident in their roles and knows his job. Virat Kohli’s leadership is contagious. He is bit of a warrior and the players are positive and rallying around him. This new Indian team can achieve anything.

Virat Kohliwith Paytm Man of the Match and Winners Trophy during day five of the only test match against Bangladesh. (BCCI)

On the Australian team:

Australia will provide a pretty good test. There are some players you don’t know much and that works to our advantage. But the first Test is very important because the venues for the third and fourth Test (Ranchi and Dharamsala) we are not sure of what will happen. Australia have the potential of changing the side after the first two Tests. If (pacers) Pat Cummins and James Pattinson are fit and raring to go and the series is alive till the third and fourth Tests, we may create an upset.

On Australia’s dismal form overseas:

Everyone’s form has been dismal overseas. There is really no excuse to do that what with neutral umpires and decision reviews. It’s a bit of mentality thing. Probably players thing that it’s going to be hard playing away from home. I enjoyed playing overseas because you are away from the expectations of the home crowd, friends and media. One can relax when you are away. I think Australia need to start well in India this time.

On what Australia need to do:

When you go to India, you need to be positive. Can’t sit back and hope things to happen. If you lose the first Test, the momentum can change. If that happens, it is hard to turn the tide. The fans are fanatical, there is a tsunami of support and if Virat and the boys start doing well then it is very hard to stay calm and concentrate. The senior players need to take that challenge to do well in India.

On the Ravichandran Ashwin impact:

He is the Bradman of bowling. Ashwin is doing what Don Bradman did with batting. Pretty incredible stuff and he is a handy batsman, too. Ashwin is the player that Australia have to overcome and probably then we have a chance. His record in India is just phenomenal.

Australia's David Warner celebrates after reaching his century against Pakistan. (REUTERS)

On the David Warner factor:

He is an amazing player. There is a change in the way he is opening the batting and his redefined role is pretty incredible. Look, he has to first sort out Ashwin but he is that sort of player who is not worried about reputations, doesn’t get nervous and bats himself. Last couple of series, Warner has been like Kohli. For Australia to win or compete, Dave Warner has to score a lot of runs.

On Australia’s key players:

Anything can happen and we can spring a surprise because Australia have some match-winners. It’s foolish to write off Australia. In Micthell Starc, we have the best quick bowler in the world, Josh Hazlewood is right up there and Nathan Lyon is a pretty good competitor. The new players will also make India think.

On sledging and India’s strong body language:

When you are winning, you can afford to intimidate the opposition by the way you carry yourself. Bowling, fielding, catching and talking all coming together for India. They are side who are pushing very hard and on the last day coming for the kill. Australia have to hang in there in the tough times and gut it out. If you slip a little bit, India will come on top of you.

On the role of coaches – Kumble and Lehmann:

They have to keep the guys under control and keep them calm. They should not look too far ahead and concentrate of what you are doing right now. Once the players step on the field, then it’s up to them but before that, the coach has to ensure they are relaxed and ready to play their best cricket.