Steve Smith’s men weakest Australian side to tour India, says Harbhajan Singh

first_imgSenior off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has rated the current Australian team led by Steve Smith as the “weakest ever” in recent times to tour the Indian sub-continent.Hosts India are dubbed as overwhelming favourites against Australia in their upcoming four-Test series starting February 23 in Pune. (Australia will come hard at Virat Kohli in first Test: Sourav Ganguly to India Today)”I have played against some of the best Australian sides. In my opinion, looking at the composition, this is the weakest Australian side to tour India. I don’t think this team has the wherewithal to cope with a quality Indian side in the Indian conditions. It can again be 4-0 like 2013 season,” Harbhajan said.When asked about the reason behind his strong observation, Harbhajan, who got a record 32 wickets in the epic 2001 series, said: “That team in 2001 had Matthew Hayden, Michael Slater, Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh. In this team, if you take Steve Smith and David Warner out, I don’t think this batting line-up can offer resistance to Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. Both know how to get wickets on the Indian tracks.” (Tendulkar vs Australia or Kohli-Australia: Which rivalry is more fun?)Harbhajan termed the England side which was drubbed 0-4 in the five-Test series in December last year as a better outfit than this Australian team.”I believe the England team that toured India recently were a better batting outfit. They scored 400 plus runs on a multiple occasions. It’s not going to happen with this Australian side,” he said. (Anil Kumble in awe of ‘passionate’ Virat Kohli)advertisementHarbhajan opined that both Ashwin and Jadeja will pose a strong challenge to Smith, who is rated as a good player of spin bowling.”Take IPL out of the equation because those matches are played on flat batting pitches. And most of Smith’s centuries are against spinners on Australian pitches. The length varies, there’s less turn and the bounce makes it easier for stroke players. In India, Ashwin and Jadeja on these tracks will pose far bigger challenge for Smith. In case of Warner, he can attack which means he will give you chances,” he said.He was also dismissive of Mitchell Starc being a big threat to the Indian batsmen with his pace and ability to bowl reverse swing.”The series is starting at a time when India summer commences. Starc would find it difficult to bowl more than 3-4 overs at full tilt in this heat and humidity. Also how many overs will Starc bowl in an innings? 20 overs. So how much his body will hold during the third or fourth spell will be key,” he said. (Australia will lose 0-3 if they play well vs India: Harbhajan Singh)Talking about off-spinner Nathan Lyon’s role, Harbhajan commented: “I have a lot of respect for Nathan Lyon. He has 200 plus Test wickets being an off-spinner playing bulk of cricket Down Under. But then again, he will be bowling to the likes of Virat Kohli, Murali Vijay or Ajinkya Rahane in India is different. The other two spinners are absolute rookies.”Harbhajan also adviced the Indian bowlers to slow down the game in order to counter Warner. (R Ashwin will be ready for me but I have my game plan: David Warner to India Today)”Warner will not be a player who would score 35 runs in a session. If he is around, he will look to score 75-80 runs. Now if Ashwin and Jadeja slow down the game, you can probably counter him. If he is on the attack, Virat should set in-out field. Keep a straightish mid-wicket. The aim will be to bowl six deliveries to Warner. Don’t let him off strike. (Virat Kohli not Australia’s only threat: 4 other concerns for Steve Smith’s men)”The left-right combination can hamper the rhythm of the bowlers. If Warner is attacking, don’t have a forward short-leg and silly point for the heck of it just to play on a batsman’s mind. If the batsmen are on ascendancy, no harm in playing a waiting game,” he concluded.last_img