- Rahane refused to believe Australia will be vulnerable in the absence of Smith and Warner
- The India vice-captain said Australian bowling attack is capable of winning them Test matches
- India will begin the first of their four-match Test series at Adelaide Oval from December 6
The ball-tampering bans have certainly weakened the Australian team and the recent results, across all formats, tell us the story.
However, India’s vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane doesn’t want to take Tim Paine’s men lightly and, in fact, believes Australia are still the favourites to win the four-match series, starting December 6 at Adelaide Oval.
Rahane was keen to throw the pressure of expectation back on the hosts and scoffed when he was asked whether Australia would be ripe for the picking.
“Not really. I feel that any team that plays at home, they feel really good, and I feel that Australia are still the favourites to win the series,” Rahane told the reporters in Adelaide.
“We are not going to take them lightly at all. Yes, they (will) miss Steve Smith and David Warner but I don’t think they are vulnerable.
“You see their bowling attack, they’ve got a really good bowling attack, and I think to win Test matches, you need to have a really good bowling attack. So I feel that Australia are really still the favourites.”
Although not quite reaching the heights of captain Virat Kohli’s 692 runs, Rahane had a good tour the last time India visited Australia in 2014-15 with 399 runs at an average of 57.
India still lost the series 2-0, however, and the 30-year-old suggested the players had learned the importance of contributing to the team effort on that trip.
“When you do well as a team, you feel really good,” he added.
“This is a team sport… and it is the job of each and every batsman to contribute for the team. And I think it’s important that we get those long partnerships together, in Australia that will really help us a lot.”
‘Mitchell Johnson was really going after Virat Kohli”
Rahane and Kohli did that in the Boxing Day Test on the last tour, putting together a fourth-wicket stand of 262 in India’s first innings with scores of 147 and 169 respectively while illustrating their different approaches to the game.
“Last time here, we really enjoyed batting together a lot, especially at the MCG,” Rahane recalled.
“Mitchell Johnson was really going after Virat Kohli and I was at the other end playing my game. Virat at the other end was really aggressive and going after bowlers.
“I was able to focus on my game, I still attacked but I was completely the opposite to Virat.”