Hyderabad: VVS Laxman has a very, very special affinity for Australia. He was literally invincible like Virender Sehwag was against Pakistan. Any tour to Australia always excites Laxman. Now with the series Down Under all set to unfold with white-ball cricket from Friday, Laxman looks at the Indian team’s chances and how ready they are to take on the Australians in their own backyard.
“This Virat Kohli-led team is full of confidence. I’m happy with the way they scheduled the series because when you play in overseas conditions, it is always good to start with white ball cricket before the Test matches. Test matches are more challenging as the real character will be tested. With white-ball cricket, it allows the touring team to settle down to new conditions. That will allow them to slowly get into rhythm and confidence. That can be transferred to Test cricket. This team has got very experienced players like Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rahane and others,” said Laxman while talking to Telangana Today on Sunday.
He feels that the IPL in the UAE was the right thing to happen before the Australian series. “Now the Indians can take that confidence from the IPL to play the shorter format of cricket in Australia. They have got a break and will be a rejuvenated side after the quarantine.”
Laxman said it will be a challenge for the Indians after the first Test as Kohli will return to India. “It is a big relief for Australians because any player who has dominated them in the last few years then it has been Virat. He could consistently put the Australians under pressure. His aggression as batsman will be missed but at the same time it will give an opportunity for some other batsman. I hope it is going to be a youngster who has to put up hands and be the match-winner for India. I remember my career changed after my first Test in 1999. Rahul’s career changed after his century in Johannesburg in 1997 or Sourav (Ganguly) career after his 100 in England. The confidence level changed after that. I’m hopeful some youngster’s career will change in the absence of Virat.”
The former stylish batsman feels that G Hanuma Vihari could be the big player in this series. “I remember last time when I was commentating I was feeling bad for Vihari because he was asked to open in the third Test. In fact, I called him and told him not to do it. But he likes challenges. He is a team man also. Even though he did not get big runs he was impressive. For someone who was opening for the first time, he was amazing, particularly in a Boxing Day Test in Melbourne. The first day’s crowd over 80,000 is very intimidating at MCG.
“Vihari is not only mentally strong but has also got a very good technique to do well in overseas conditions. Whenever he has got an opportunity, he has always delivered. I just hope he gets into a rhythm and luckily he is there for a good period of time before the first Test. I have a feeling he has got the potential to score heavily in this series.”
Indian pace attack, according to Laxman, is one of the best and lethal attacks in the world. “One of the reasons we won last time was because Bumrah, Shami and Ishant were all aggressive. There was sustained aggression and that helped India. It really feels good when the Indian pacers rattle the Australians.”
Laxman adds Hyderabad pace bowler Mohd Siraj has the potential to excel in Test cricket. “Whenever I talk to senior cricketers or for that matter to Rahul (Dravid) about Siraj, they speak highly of him. He has done really well in four-day for India A. Though he is also a good white-ball bowler, I always feel that he is fantastic in the longer format bowler. He can bowl with the new ball with good pace and importantly the length he bowls. He always makes the batsman play the delivery. He has got a sharp bouncer. He can bowl long spells. But it is important to work on his fitness and improve on his match awareness. He has shown the character as unfortunately his father passed away now. But he has stayed back in Australia. He is an inspirational story.”
Laxman pointed out that Rohit Sharma will be an asset. “Rohit can be the X-factor in this Test series. He has not played for long time and confusion that has been created will make him hungry to perform.”
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