Sourav Ganguly says India has a bowling attack equal to Australia’s and that Virat Kohli’s side is capable of claiming back-to-back Test series wins Down Under and hinted two key men could make injury comebacks.
India won a Test series in Australia for the first time ever in 2018-19 when victories in Adelaide and Melbourne guided it to a 2-1 win.
Australia was at the time finding its way through the ball-tampering crisis which made Steve Smith and David Warner unavailable through suspension, while Marnus Labuschagne was still at the start of his Test career.
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Australia’s batting is now in far better health — Smith and Labuschagne are among the ICC’s top three Test batsmen in the world, while David Warner averages 65.94 on home shores.
Nonetheless, BCCI president and former India captain Ganguly says this summer’s Border-Gavaskar series is a “50-50” proposition.
“Australia in Australia is always tough. They will be a lot stronger with Smith and Warner back. Players like Labuschagne have become better,” Ganguly said, according to Hindustan Times.
“It will be a good test for India, but they are capable of winning. It will be a good series.”
He added: “It’s a 50-50 chance for both teams. Runs on the board will be important. Whoever bats well will win the series.”
Australia still boasts arguably the best bowling attack in the world with Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon all still at, or somewhere near, the peak of their powers.
But India’s own attack is one to be feared. Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami are still leading the charge with the ball, two years after they fronted what was considered the best bowling attack — which has hardly changed — India had ever brought to Australia.
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Fast bowling PERFECTION
“India has the pace attack to match Australia,” Ganguly said. “There is Bumrah, Shami, (Navdeep) Saini. The attack is as good as Australia’s.”
The BCCI boss said both Ishant Sharma and Rohit Sharma could be fit in time for the Border-Gavaskar series, having been left out of India’s original squad due to injury.
“We are monitoring Ishant and Rohit. Ishant is not completely out. He will become a part of the Test series,” he said. “With Rohit, we want him fit for Australia. At some stage if he is fit, I am sure the selectors will rethink his position.”
Ishant Sharma, a mainstay of the Indian attack, has been sidelined since mid-October due to an abdominal muscle tear while Rohit Sharma is currently playing in the IPL but selectors harbour concerns over a hamstring injury he suffered earlier in the season.
A veteran of 97 Tests, Ishant Sharma is India’s most experienced player and excelled in Australia in the last Border-Gavaskar series (11 wickets at 23.81). He has averaged 19.13 with the ball since the start of 2018.