India can register first Test series win in Aus: Gilchrist
Mumbai: Former Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist feels India has a great opportunity to register their first ever Test series victory Down Under as the former world number one side is currently going through a transitional phase.
"Its a good chance for India with Australia being through somewhat of a transitional period. They are still finding their way. India have got a few good results in the last couple of series (against Australia).
"I think Australia are aware of that. They need to be on top of their game to hold on to their (undefeated) record at home against India," he said at a press conference here today.
The 40-year-old left-hander, who represented Australia in 96 Tests and 287 ODIs scoring 5570 and and 9619 runs respectively, was of the view that unlike England, pitches in Australia would favour the Indians.
"I think the last two tours when India came to Australia, batsmen had certainly dominated. The Indian batsmen especially have accommodated these conditions very very well. In 1999-2000, when I played first against India in Australia, the conditions were a bit more difficult for them. There was a lot of grass on the wicket and a lot of bounce.
"(However) The general view is that wickets have tamed somewhat and the Indian players - they are world class players - will certainly find ways to score hundreds in those conditions. I wouldn`t say there will be dead wickets but maybe not as spicy as it used to be in previous years.
"The English conditions were a difficult challenge. From what I saw, there were pretty tired players in the Indian set- up in England. Hopefully they are fresh when they come to Australia and I am looking forward to that challenge," he added.
India are slated to play four Tests, beginning December 26 in Melbourne, followed by two T20s and a tri-series tournament also involving Sri Lanka.
Gilchrist, who was here for a promotional event, felt the Indian spin duo of R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha would enjoy bowling in the Australian conditions.
"Ashwin will look forward to bowling in those conditions. He is a tall guy and will try to extract the bounce and Pragyan Ojha, playing alongside him I know, will also be able to spin the ball. They will definitely have a role to play. They may not end up in the wickets column but they will have some contribution to make."
The southpaw, who redefined the role of a wicket-keeper batsman, heaped praise on Indian batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar and said his much-awaited century of centuries was inevitable.
"It is inevitable. It was suppose to happen at Lord`s, at the home of cricket, with India playing its hundredth match against England and it was all supposed to synchronise together but it didn`t happen. He missed a hundred at his homeground. It is going to happen someday. He is a class act.
"I have been standing behind him for 20 of those (centuries). With every run he scores, he creates a new record. He breaks his own record everyday. He is the best player I have seen and all the cricketing nations will be celebrating and cheering when he scores. It is not just run scoring but how he has handled himself and has carried the weight of the nation," he added.
Gilchrist was impressed with the way Indian youngsters, especially Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, were shaping up and added that they could play an important role for the team when the senior cricketers retired.
"I have been nothing but impressed by Virat Kohli. He looks to me like an astonishingly good player. He has an aggressive mindset. He is learning to balance the amazing skill and talent that he has with more composure and understanding of the situation.
"Rohit Sharma is a talented youngster and a terrific person I enjoyed getting to know (while playing for IPL squad Deccan Chargers). He knows he has got more to offer. He has got to give another 10 per cent to make that elevation into Test cricket. They have got the potential but you need to balance it," he said.
Gilchrist also spoke highly of young Indian speedsters Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron.
"Aaron and Yadav looked to me like good bowlers. I was very impressed with them in the IPL though it was short cricket. They don`t look like the stereotypical Indian fast bowlers. I see new breed of modern cricketers coming through, stronger with more physique. If they manage to pick up and are managed well they would be very valuable to the Indian set-up.
"I think both nations have got terrific young prospects in their bowling department particularly in fast bowling. I have seen some of these bowlers during IPL who are now bowling in Zaheer`s absence. I am sure they will enjoy bowling in Australian conditions," he said.
Gilchrist also backed his former skipper Ricky Ponting, who is under pressure to announce his retirement, to make it for the series against India.
"I wouldn`t expect him to be left out of the Indian series. He is keen to play. His last two innings as a player have been as impressive as anything in quite a while. He is the second best player from Australia after Sir Donald Bradman. He is the only one to know when he should finish international cricket but I would say the selectors are quite keen to have him. I am sure he will be featuring in that series."
Asked whether the absence of discarded Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh would rob the series of its aggressiveness, he said, "I am not in a position to comment on why he was dropped but but he was a great contributor to the aggressive mindset cultivated in the Indian team by Saurav Ganguly. But the general rule now is that Indian teams come to Australia with a more positive mindset."
He recalled the epic 376-run partnership between VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid in the famous 2001 Kolkata Test that helped India carve out a historic win over Australia after trailing by 274 runs in the first innings and following on.
"It was one of the greatest Test victories ever. To come rom behind and win the match. That is the finest batting I have seen in my professional life. It was a great match even though we were on the wrong side of the result," he added.