New Delhi, June 11: Rahul Dravid said with 'impactful' Steve Smith and David Warner up their ranks this time around, India will face stiff challenge in their Test tour of Australia later this year.
Smith and Warner missed India's historic away Test series win over Australia in 2018 because of their one-year bans for their involvement in the infamous ball-tampering episode in South Africa. In the absence of the duo, India recorded their first Test series win Down Under in 2018-19.
"Missing Smith and Warner made a huge impact for Australia. They are their (Australia's) top two batsman, they scored the most number of runs for them," Dravid said on Sony Ten Pit Stop.
"We have seen how a big impact someone like Smith had on the Ashes, even though Warner was out of form, he was able to carry that series along with (Marnus) Labuschagne on his own.
But yes, these two guys (Smith and Warner) will make a huge impact in that team, so it will be a bigger and stiffer challenge for India this time around," added the former India captain, a veteran of 164 Tests.
India are set to tour Australia for a four-match Test series, starting 3 December at Gabba, Brisbane. "Australia will always look back on the last series and they can always say look Smith and Warner were not there, our best players were not there, but this time you are going to have all the best players of both the teams," Dravid said.
The India stalwart, however, said Virat Kohli and his team has the firepower to give Australia a tough fight in the upcoming series.
"But I'd say India has got the fire power to compete and they have got top-class players. So it should be a good one, everyone is going to look forward to it," he said.The 47-year-old also described the series as a "marquee" one.
"It is going to be a great series especially after India won last time, it was a fantastic win for India," Dravid said.
"Two great teams, two top-class teams. Australia obviously back to full strength with Smith and Warner. The area where Australia struggled last time was their batting, their batting just kept collapsing, they never gave their bowlers enough to rest upon. So that is something that they will hope that doesn't happen this time.
"India's bowling has been fantastic over the last couple of years, so that should be great. It should be a great contest and probably marquee series of the year for the world," signed off Dravid, who amassed 13,288 Test runs.