India vs Australia - Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan,Virat Kohli key: Michael Clarke | india-vs-australia-2017 | Hindustan Times
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India vs Australia - Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan,Virat Kohli key: Michael Clarke

Michael Clarke, former Australian cricket team captain, has said Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli hold the key for the Indian cricket team in the upcoming limited overs series, with the first India vs Australia ODI beginning on September 17 in Chennai.

india vs australia 2017 Updated: Sep 13, 2017 11:54 IST
Somshuvra Laha
Michael Clarke has said the top three of the Indian batting, namely Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and skipper Virat Kohli hold the key to the team’s success in the upcoming limited overs cricket series against Australia starting on September 17.
Michael Clarke has said the top three of the Indian batting, namely Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and skipper Virat Kohli hold the key to the team’s success in the upcoming limited overs cricket series against Australia starting on September 17.(PTI)

Given how dapper he still looks in a suit, it’s sure difficult to believe former Australia captain Michael Clarke retired from international cricket over two years ago. Now a commentator for the upcoming India vs Australia series, Clarke spoke on various topics in a freewheeling interview with Hindustan Times.

Excerpts:

Do you think the Bangladesh series will have any bearing on Australia in this ODI series against India?

I think they will be disappointed not winning that series. But they will take positives from the way they fought back in the second Test. I think they are used to the heat now, they have spent some time in conditions they will be getting in India. They will be very well prepared. Australians will see this series as a real opportunity. If they can beat India in their own backyard, they go a long way to getting back to No 1 (in ODIs). And if they do that they will take a lot of confidence back home.

How do you see the future of Test cricket? We have had a few upsets but not a great touring team like the one you were part of. Everyone’s pretty much winning at home only.

It’s been like that for a while now. I think that’s the greatest challenge at the moment in Test cricket, in particular — winning away from home. India is the No 1 Test team in the world. They have to play South Africa in South Africa, England in England and Australia in Australia. If they do that, they show the world that they are hands down the No 1 team in the world. I’m certain that’s what Virat Kohli would be pushing this India team to do. Yes, he wants to win at home. But he will definitely want to win away from home. The best teams in the world want to find a way to win abroad. That Australian team which I was lucky enough to be part of, one of the things we always used to take pride in was to win away from home.

You have played against two generations of Indians. Is this team more prepared to win overseas?

It’s not fair to compare. I think that was a wonderful team. Ganguly, Sehwag, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman, Kumble, Harbhajan, Zaheer, Javagal when I first started…it would be disrespectful to compare. It was an amazing team. I believe Sourav played a big part in really changing the style of Indian cricket. I think that aggressive approach Sourav took, you see a lot of that in Virat’s captaincy as well.

Given the way he has been scoring, is it early to say that Virat Kohli could be the greatest ever Indian batsman?

You can tell Sachin that! Virat’s still a young player. His statistics in one-day cricket are unbelievable. Thirty one-day hundreds is absolutely crazy. But again it’s not fair to compare Sachin and Virat right now. It’s something everybody can compare at the end of Virat’s career. I don’t think Virat is thinking about that. And I don’t think Sachin will be bothered about that either. Sachin was an absolute legend, Brian Lara an absolute legend and Virat is making his own destiny.

How far do you think the openers can influence this series?

I reckon the top three of both teams. (Aaron) Finch, (David) Warner, (Steve) Smith for Australia and then Rohit, Dhawan and Kohli for India. That’s six very good batsmen. For Australia they need to find a way to get those three batsmen out ASAP, because if you allow them to bat for a long time, they just score so freely. I’m sure Virat will be saying the same to his bowlers.

You think India’s improved fielding makes it a more balanced series?

I think that’s going to be the key. I think whoever is going to hold on to the catches, say Kohli or Sharma and Dhawan gave a chance early, Australia have to hang on to it. I have always believed the better fielding team goes a long way to winning the game. And this series because both teams are so close when it comes to bowling and batting, fielding might just be the difference. That great piece of fielding might just win you the game.

And about Dhoni, till when do you see him playing? The 2019 World Cup?

Definitely! What’s the World Cup after that? 2023? He might play that as well! He is in great form. I love seeing him play. He has got so much to offer. He is fit, he is healthy. He wants to be there. And his form in Sri Lanka gave you a really good indication MS Dhoni has lost nothing. He will be helping Virat Kohli. He will be helping the other players. There will definitely be a place for MS Dhoni in that team.