Cricket legends Kapil Dev and VVS Laxman believe India’s upcoming tour of Australia presents the Men in Blue their best chance of winning Down Under, as they prepare to face off against the world champions in what promises to be a riveting series of one-day international and T20I matches.
Kapil Dev and VVS Laxman were part of a unique panel discussion conducted in Delhi by Star Sports ahead of India’s tour of Australia. The session was moderated by Harsha Bhogle.
India head into the five-match ODI series and three-match T20I contest on a high, having thrashed South Africa at home in the recently-played Test series. The formidable Aussies, meanwhile, will have to cope with chinks in their armour and make up for weaknesses both in their batting and bowling attacks.
The absence of recently-retired Mitchell Johnson and injury-plagued Mitchell Starc leaves the home team with an inexperienced pace attack, while the predicted absence of Steve Smith due to injury will significantly weaken their batting.
“This is a very balanced Indian side,” Kapil Dev, who captained India to World Cup victory in 1983, said. “It comprises aggressive attacking players like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhiwan, who have a fearless attitude and more calculated, stronger players like MS Dhoni, Ajinkya Rahane and Ravichandran Ashwin.”
“I strongly believe this team can give a vulnerable Australia a run for their money,” Kapil said.
Laxman echoed the legendary allrounder’s opinion.
“This Australian team is beatable. They will miss the experience and quality of Michael Clarke and Mitchell Johnson. More so, India’s chances look even stronger given the form of this ODI team,” Laxman, who is widely regarded as the most successful batsman in recent times against Australia, said.
Both sides’ captains will also be in the spotlight. Having retired from Tests, Indian skipper MS Dhoni will be keen to show he’s lost none of his flair for leadership by proving his mettle once again in the limited-overs format.
David Warner, meanwhile, will have to prove that he is not just a fierce southpaw but also a capable leader of a team like Australia as he steps up to the captaincy in Smith’s absence.
In India’s case, Kapil for one believes the contrasting leadership styles of Dhoni and Virat Kohli will complement each other only to further strengthen the team’s hand.
“Virat Kohli is a fast bowler in a world class batsman’s body. He is not one to shy away from intimidation and his aggressive attitude will inspire other young players,” Kapil said.
“On the other hand, Dhoni is a calm personality, someone who likes to take time in his decisions and does not show too many emotions. He is a silent strategist.”
Australia currently top the ODI rankings with 127 points with India close on their heel in second spot with 114 points. An away win for India will help them close the gap to the leaders whereas a defeat could see them slip to third overall behind South Africa who have 112 points.