Bangalore, Oct.7 : Can the Australian team repeat the magic of winning a series in India? Having done so in 2004 after a gap of 35 years, this seems to be the biggest question dogging the minds of bookmakers, who have cautiously bet 2.10 dollars on the Australians to win. According to a Fox Sports report, the Australian batting line-up is settled, but issues remain.
Opener Matthew Hayden hasn't had a long innings so far on tour, but appears determined to make a mark. His attention to detail could be seen during a net session in Hyderabad where he spent five minutes debating with bowling machine operator Troy Cooley whether there was an imaginary fieldsman at point, behind point or in front of point.
Ponting had his middle stump uprooted by Board XI leggie Piyush Chawla in Australia's first innings, but would have been content with an undefeated half-century in the second. owever, until he scores heavily in the Tests, the mental demons of previous failures here will remain.
Shane Watson was forced out of the tour match by a chest virus. His talent has never been questioned - just whether he can stay on the park for any length of time.
The major problem area is the spin department. The injury to leggie Bryce McGain is a major blow because he was to be the frontline weapon. The four-man selection panel was pinning its hopes on Tasmanian finger spinner Jason Krejza, but he bowled himself out of the calculations by taking a hammering at the hands of Board XI batters. Leg-spinning all-rounder Cameron White will add depth to the batting if he makes his Test debut, but he barely spins the ball.
Michael Clarke may be the best spinning option but Australia must be careful not to overload him.
The attack will be built around pace but even Gilchrist, the man who guided Australia to their breakthrough win here four years ago, has questioned whether their lack of Test experience in unforgiving Indian conditions will hurt.
For more than a decade Australia have begun every series as favourites, but the series in India is likely to give them some sleepless nights and a lot of food for thought.
Indeed, the moment of truth has arrived for this new-look team hoping to forge its own reputation without the likes of Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath.
The heavy hitters are gone and this is the first real guide of what life will be like in coming years.
There's arguably no greater test of character and skill than a tour through India.
Gilchrist described the epic 2004 win as the pinnacle of his distinguished career, and that says a lot because he was involved in only two losing campaigns.
Story first published: Tuesday, October 7, 2008, 13:34 [IST]
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