Melbourne, Oct.8 : Noted cricket columnist Peter Roebuck expects a cracker of a contest between India and Australia when the four Test series gets underway in Bangalore from Thursday.
In an article for The Age, Roebuck says that both teams are presently in a state of flux, with the Indians having lost a recent Test series to Sri Lanka and facing a raging debate on much longer the "Fab Five" - Anil Kumble, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, V.V.S.Laxman and Sourav Ganguly - are going to play for the country. Ganguly has already thrown in the towel by saying that this will be his last series.
The Australians, on the other hand, have only four players who have played in India before. They won't have the services of tried battlers Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne, and while they have a potent pace attack, their spinners are not much to write home about, adds Roebuck.
"From Fred Spofforth to Ricky Ponting, the Aussies have played an uncompromising game. Not so long ago the Indian team emerged mostly from urban areas and gymkhanas. It has taken Indian cricket a considerable time to shake off its colonial inheritance. India nowadays plays the same unbridled game as its opponent. At least both parties are ready this time. India has been in a camp and the tourists have been loosening up in Hyderabad. All the more reason to anticipate a cracking contest," writes Roebuck.
"That both teams are in a state of flux adds spice. In a trice Australia has been obliged to replace five fair-dinkum champions. Then the all-rounder went fishing. Now plans have been upset by a blight of injuries," says Roebuck, and questions the Australian selectors for wanting to bring a finger-spinner to India where the ball spins anyhow and bounce is the key.
He says that in theory, this is fine, but in execution, it is questionable.
He believes that Cameron White is a superb cricketer and that probably the selectors have preferred a broad-based cricketer to a humdrum specialist.
He concludes that stronger antipodean outfits have been beaten in India and that clearly the visitors start as underdogs. But he says India has some headaches of its own.