The Aussies landed in India last week for a short tour, just before the Ashes cricket series back home. It is the first time in years that the team could not be regarded as an experienced side. Speaking in a press conference at Mumbai, Captain George Bailey and Coach Steve Rixon narrated some positive aspects such as; the team’s experience of IPL matches. As per them, this was one strong point, which had conditioned several team members on their knowledge of Indian pitches and familiarity with top Indian players. Five of their players were already in India, when the rest of the team arrived and every single one of them took part in the final played three days ago. While Shane Watson and James Faulkner played for Rajasthan Royals; the other three; Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Coulter-Nile represented the Mumbai Indians, who won the tournament. In addition, both Bailey and Rixon have also been part of Chennai Super Kings earlier on, in various roles. So they know pretty well about Dhoni, Raina, Ashwin and Jadeja. There are a few other players like; Callum Ferguson and Aaron Flinch, who have played for the Pune Warriors; and Moises Henrique, who was part of the Royal challengers Bangalore last season.
But the Australians know pretty well that it is not easy to beat India in India, regardless of the familiarity with conditions or the players, who had been their IPL team mates. The current India side is young and bubbling with confidence. Under MS Dhoni’s stewardship, the Indian ODI side is now on top of the ODI ranking. When asked about the absence of Michael Clarke on the tour, Rixon shot back a question in reply; “How about taking Dhoni out of the Indian side?” This just about sums up the importance of Dhoni in the Indian cricket squad.
The legendary Ian Chappell has lambasted Cricket Australia for the badly-timed series and accused the administrators that they were only concerned with dollars. As per Chappell, the team should have been preparing for the return Ashes series back home rather than needlessly indulging with the shorter versions of the game. He feels that the ill-timed series will dent the team’s morale further after their drubbing in England recently. According to him, tracks in India are only conducive to spin bowling and with Clarke not in the team, there are few in the current Australia side, equally adept in dealing with spinners.
But many Australian cricketers have chosen to differ with what Chappell has said or written. They think that Australia has a point to prove by coming to India. Michael Clarke, who couldn’t come, said that Australia needs to prove that it can regain the status of the No.1 ODI team. They only need to beat India to do so. Nothing can be a more compelling reason for this tour, even if it is squeezed tightly and scheduled just before England arrives in Australia. Australia lost the No. 1 spot in July 2012 and since then they have been striving hard to get it back. He refuted Chappell’s contention that the tour is about money but the national prestige.
From India’s point of view things are different. The Dhoni-led side would want to buttress their superiority and show that the current combination is awesome for any team to contend with.
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