Canberra: Australia`s bowling coach Troy Cooley has no doubt that India would be a weakened side if gangling fast bowler Ishant Sharma is sidelined for the opening cricket Test in Melbourne due to ankle injury.
"He`s a big player, an important cog in their wheel. With the injuries India has been having so with him not playing, it will be a weakened Indian team," Cooley told mediapersons at Manuka Oval this morning.
Sharma pulled up during his sixth over in the two-day drawn game against Cricket Australia Chairman`s XI on Thursday and despite the team management downplaying the extent of his injury, it`s clear the worry on his left ankle is not unfounded.
Cooley, who arrived two days prior to the three-day game between the tourists and Chairman`s XI on Monday, though was quick to suggest that India`s misfortune was not the cause of celebration in Australia`s ranks.
Instead, the hosts have enough talent to tide over any team in the world and quite a few of them would be in action on Monday.
As against India`s bowling worries, Australia seems to have more than one option in their fast bowling ranks. Two of them, Doug Bollinger and Trent Copeland, could be pressing their stakes in the three-day game.
"I think Trent won`t be playing in this game. He`s still a bit sore in the shoulder but I`m sure Doug will be out there. They all want to play at the top level and they all want to do the work so I think it`s a good thing. Doug will be pushing hard to get his spot back in the Test team," he said.
"I know he`s a real competitor, a real fighter and this will be an opportunity for him to get back into that side," he added.
Australia`s batting though is another case and batting collapses have been commonplace. So pronounced has been their weakness against swing that a special three-day batting camp has been organised in Melbourne from Tuesday.
"I`ve never seen a batsman who likes to face swing bowling. I think swing bowling undoes all batsmen, some cope with it a little bit better than others but if you`ve got an ability to swing the ball, you`ll take any amount of Test wickets," he said.
Australia`s opener Phil Hughes looks particularly all at sea against swing bowling though his younger partner, David Warner, has been a complete contrast during his short career.
"Phil (Hughes) has been working hard...it`s just a matter of time before he clicks out in the middle. He`s just got to get his mind right. We`ve seen a lot of batsmen with different techniques score runs and everybody undoes his technique but I`ve seen him score runs with that technique.
"He`s just got to get himself in that position where mentally he`s ready to play. I don`t think he`s far from that at the moment," he said.
"As for Warner, he plays in an exciting way so I`ll be very interested in watching him over the next few days. Michael (Clarke) has done a fantastic job at the moment but you`re always looking for leaders within your group.
"Warner`s one of those (with leadership quality) and that`s why he`s been given the role to lead the squad," he added.