India vs Australia - VVS Laxman: IND will win 4-1; Michael Clarke says 3-2 for AUS | india-vs-australia-2017 | Hindustan Times
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India vs Australia - VVS Laxman: IND will win 4-1; Michael Clarke says 3-2 for AUS

With a history of aggression both on and off the field, the limited-over series between Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team and Steve Smith-led Australia cricket team will see some sparks fly. Former players VVS Laxman and Michael Clarke talk about the subplots in the marquee cricket clash

india vs australia 2017 Updated: Sep 13, 2017 11:53 IST
HT Correspondent
Steve Smith’s Australia cricket team will take on Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team in a five-match ODI series starting on September 17. VVS Laxman and Michael Clarke analyses the upcoming India vs Australia series
Steve Smith’s Australia cricket team will take on Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team in a five-match ODI series starting on September 17. VVS Laxman and Michael Clarke analyses the upcoming India vs Australia series(Getty Images)

The sparks are expected to fly again as India and Australia clash on the cricket field, with a five-match ODI contest starting in Chennai on Sunday. India batting stalwart VVS Laxman, who had special affinity for Australian bowling, and former Aussie skipper Michael Clarke whose Test career took wings in India, made their point forcefully in a chat organised by official broadcasters STAR India here on Tuesday.

On Steve Smith vs Virat Kohli

VVS Laxman: They are not just modern-day captains, they are modern-day greats. In such a short span, the impact the two wonderful batsmen have had is amazing. When you are playing international cricket, it is not necessary to be friendly with your opponent.

You take a lot of pride playing for your country. And I am sure both Virat Kohli and Steve Smith will go all out. They will be aggressive to make sure they win.

Michael Clarke: The talk about Steve Smith versus Virat Kohli will be there leading up to the first game. End of the day, it comes down to the team that wins. It doesn’t really matter how many runs Kohli or Smith make. As captain, you want your team to win.

On 2019 World Cup build-up

VVS Laxman: It has already started in the series versus Sri Lanka. Younger players were given a chance. There were two important aspects. One was identifying a wrist spinner. India found out in the Champions Trophy that when the pitch was not conducive to the finger spinners (it was an issue); the wrist spinner taking wickets in the middle-overs is crucial.

Finishing is very important, and they have found Hardik Pandya. He is taking up a role which MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina have fulfilled over the last decade.

Michael Clarke: Time for the team to really decide its style of play. Smith, David Warner and the support staff need to work that out. Are they going to play an aggressive brand of cricket? Are they going to let the top order go hard or consolidate? There is plenty of time before the World Cup. But they will have to work really hard to beat India. Over the last 12 months, we have been inconsistent. Australian fans expect the team to be top of the tree. If we beat India, we go back to No 1 in the one-day format.

On teams’ approach

VVS Laxman: India won’t be cautious. One thing about Virat is he is always aggressive, positive and proactive. The way they were ruthless in Sri Lanka was very impressive. That shows this Indian team is not looking at the opposition, but looking within. India are a very balanced side in every department, even the mental attitude; it is an opportunity for youngsters to prove themselves.

Michael Clarke: No doubt (experience of India players will matter). They know the conditions very well. It’s everything, the heat, the hotel, the food. But these players know all that, India is their second home. It’s a shame there is no Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc due to injury.

But this Australian team has no excuses. This team knows these conditions really well. They know this opposition really well, and it is a massive series for us. Australia need Warner and Smith to lead from the front. Pat Cummins needs to be aggressive with the new ball. India’s top three is as good as any top three in world cricket. If Cummins can fire and take those three wickets in the first 10 overs, then it will be very good.

Is Australia weakest?

Michael Clarke: I am not going to get into that. It will make newspaper headlines tomorrow. I am silly, but not that silly. End of the day individual performances are as important as team performances. There is enough talent in the side to beat any team in the world.

VVS Laxman: It is unfair to say they are the weakest Australian side. The Australian batting line-up has plenty of experience. In bowling, especially (leg spinner) Adam Zampa has to do well.

Better skipper, better bat

VVS Laxman: Virat Kohli is a better captain. Both are young in their captaincy careers. I just felt Smith in the Test series was not as proactive as he should have been with some of the bowling changes. Virat is improving every match. He also has the advantage of having Dhoni, one of the most successful captains in world cricket. As a captain, using the resources (is important), I was impressed with the way he used three young spinners against Sri Lanka and the way he captained some of the senior bowlers and got the best out of them.

Michael Clarke: Virat Kohli is a better limited-overs batsman, only just. Smith is a better Test batsman than Virat. As far as captaincy is concerned, it is very even at this stage. We can’t split them — two very young and good captains. What is important is the team wins. Virat’s team is winning. Smith needs to find that momentum.

Series prediction

VVS Laxman: 4-1 to India. It is going to be competitive no doubt about it. Australia’s bowling department is depleted. Last time, it was highly competitive because the bowling was still good. Cummins is a good bowler. Coulter-Nile has had IPL exposure. But spinners are inexperienced, that is why India will dominate.

Michael Clarke: 3-2 to the Aussies.