Joined: 27 January 2005
Indian batting great Sachin Tendulkar will play a big part as the series unfolds.
Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Rahul Dravid, Matthew Hayden, VVS Laxman all averaged over 60 in the 2003-04 series and proved very difficult to dislodge.
But add the name Ajit Agarkar and realise how influential one spell of bowling can be in a series outcome, especially in a contest between two of the world's best batting lists.
Agarkar's haul of 6-41 in Adelaide four years ago turned a Test, gave India a shock 1-0 series lead and eventually went a long way towards the visitors retaining the trophy despite Australia's desperation to give Steve Waugh the perfect send-off.
India's effort in drawing that series 1-1 ranks as one of the best efforts of recent touring teams, as Australia are unbeaten at home since defeat to the West Indies in 1992-93.
India's modus operandi should again be similar this summer, when the sides play four Tests, starting with the traditional Boxing Day blockbuster at the MCG.
In short, the plan will likely be bat big, bowl lots.
Although Australia's bowlers had the measure of India's batsmen in 2004-05, when Adam Gilchrist led his country to its first series win in India in over 30 years, that remains the last time the great bowling unit of Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Jason Gillespie and Michael Kasprowicz performed at its combined best.
Brett Lee and his colleagues have taken the reins admirably since McGrath and Warne retired, but if Australia's attack is blunted the same way it was four years ago, then it will be advantage India.
The opposing coaches from last time, John Buchanan and John Wright, both believe India's batting is the key to this series.
"The success of (India's) tour will really hinge around how they bat for the first four hours, and if they can get through that period one or two wickets down, they've got a very good middle order that can put any pace attack under pressure," said Wright, who coached India from 2000-05 and now works with New Zealand Cricket.
Buchanan expects India to try to post big scores which will put them in unbeatable positions and allow their spinners, captain Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh, to trouble Ponting's side.
"Like they did last time, they really used their batting to try to put themselves into positions to either draw games or win games and I can't see it being too much different this time," said Buchanan, who retired last year after eight years with the Australian team.
Joined: 08 April 2007
Some former Pakistan captains have advised Shoaib Malik to concentrate on cementing his place in the team by taking full advantage of the reprieve he got despite the recent series defeats.
Malik's captaincy and form have been widely criticised and former captain Imran Khan has lashed out at the board for retaining him as captain even after the miserable performance of the team against India.
Former skippers Javed Miandad, Zaheer Abbas, Rashid Latif and Mushtaq Mohammad thought that Malik was lucky not to lose his captaincy following the series defeats against South Africa and India.
Miandad said Malik should know his responsibilities and concentrate on his own performance.
"There is always a great responsibility on the shoulders of the captain and if he can't perform or look after his fitness then the team always faces problems like it did in India," Miandad said.
"I don't blame Malik for anything as he didn't ask for the captaincy. But at the same time he must now start realising he has to learn to take the pressure and fulfill his dual role properly."
"When I was the captain I always assessed my own form and when Imran was available I used to make way for him as captain and concentrate on my batting and own form," he said.
Miandad said Malik should become his own judge as far as his form and captaincy were concerned.
"Nothing comes before the national interest and the board must also realise that captaincy is not the only issue in the team. There are other problems which also need to be looked into," he added.
Zaheer Abbas said that a captain's performance and form reflected in the team's overall showing.
"When the board has decided to retain Malik as captain we must back him completely. We have the example of South African captain Graeme Smith before us. He also failed initially but his board kept on supporting him constantly. We must also support Malik and encourage him.
"But he also needs to concentrate on his form and fitness and set an example for others with his own performances," he said.
Latif felt there was a need for the board to think about having separate captains for Tests and one-dayers as both forms required different tactics and attitude.
"The captain must be a positive and aggressive person and lead the way with his own attitude. We need to start playing with more conviction and self-belief."
Mushtaq Mohammad said the players must learn from the Indian tour and start preparing for the forthcoming series against Australia.
"I think nowadays how you perform against the world champions is the only criteria to judge a team's form and if we plan well, we have the players to beat Australia. But consistent selection is also required," he said.
Joined: 11 February 2005
Joined: 08 April 2008
Joined: 09 July 2008
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