Dubai: Former India captain Kapil Dev feels if the Indians could handle the experienced campaigner Ricky Ponting, they could enhance their chances of beating Australia in the upcoming four-Test series, starting on December 26.
"Ricky Ponting is the most important player. He is an experienced player and if India can control him then we can control Australia. Remember experience always comes in handy in the long run. He has scored enough runs against us and is due for a big score," said 1983 World Cup winning captain.
The 52-year-old, who played 131 Tests and 225 ODIs, said this is India`s best chance of upsetting Australia in their own backyard as they are no more that ferocious team they used to be after the retirements of some of their key players.
"This time India has a better chance to win the Test series in Australia, there is no doubt about that. Australia were on top of the world cricket for 15 years. But now it is not the same team without (Glenn) McGrath, (Shane) Warne, (Adam) Gilchrist and (Matthew) Hayden.”
"They are not as strong as they used to be," insisted Kapil on the ICC Cricket World Radio Show.
"We still have Sachin, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Virender Sehwag. Then there are young talented fast bowlers and spinners. We are getting strong everyday. We, therefore, have a better chance than ever before.”
"Earlier that was not the case because we were no match for Australia. Australia dominated world cricket and always bounced back. But this time we can go there thinking of not drawing but with a view to win the series," he added.
On Tendulkar`s long-awaited 100th international century, Kapil said, "Sachin has served Indian cricket so enormously that at this stage this talk of this 100th hundred is not important. If India can win the series, Sachin`s 100th hundred will be taken care of."
Former Australia captain Kim Hughes is convinced that Tendulkar will score his 100th international ton in Australia but suggested the champion batsman to use lighter bats.
"Tendulkar always looks in good form. Using heavy bats on flatter wickets are fine but when the wickets have got a bit of a pace and bounce, then I don`t think heavier bats are a wise thing. I think lighter bats in Australia where you play more horizontal shots are a better option.”
"You would think in four Tests, Tendulkar will get an opportunity (to score a century). We produce good wickets in Australia for the batsmen and I would have thought Tendulkar will certainly get one hundred in one of those four Test matches," said Hughes.
Hughes feels that the Indian opener Sehwag is possibly Australia`s biggest threat.
"I think Sehwag is biggest danger for Australia because he gets India off to such a good positive start and he likes playing well on our true wickets. Sehwag have always done well in Australia. India`s batting is far superior to Australia`s.”
"(Sachin) Tendulkar is still playing marvelously well, (Rahul) Dravid is in fantastic form, and (VVS) Laxman and (Virender)," said the 57-year-old.
Hughes, who played 70 Tests and 97 ODIs for Australia, said, "India`s record away from home has not been very good. They got slaughtered by England (earlier this summer) and England are a far better side than Australia. But I would have thought that given Aussies injury worries and that we are an average side now, yes, this would be India`s best chance."
Hughes said that Australia`s young bowling attack have to carry the bulk of the responsibility.
"Australia has got a young spinner in (Nathan) Lyon and it will be younger bowlers (James) Pattinson, (Mitchell) Starc and (Peter) Siddle who will have to carry the bulk of the bowling.”
"Our batting has been very, very brittle as evident in South Africa and against New Zealand albeit I think the wickets will be more conducive to batting in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide," he said.