Australia vulnerable, India have good chance: Laxman

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New Delhi, Dec 23 (IANS) Indian batting legend V.V.S. Laxman believes India have a very good chance of doing well in the limited-over series in Australia in January as the home team appears vulnerable.

“This Australian team is definitely quite beatable and vulnerable. They have a depleted side. They do not have two key players — Michael Clarke, who led them to World Cup victory, and Mitchell Johnson, who was lately one of the world’s most lethal bowlers,” Laxman said here on Wednesday.

“They also do not have Mitchell Starc, Shane Watson looks iffy and will be under pressure to perform, Steven Smith is injured and they have no Brad Haddin. The only real danger will be David Warner. The key is to make him go for cover drives and not pitch anything short to him. He is one of the most dangerous batsmen in the world today and the real substance in their batting line-up.”

India will tour Australia from January 12 to 31 to play five One-Day Internationals (ODI) and three Twenty20 Internationals.

“India have a very good chance. Our bowling is doing really well and Ravichandran Ashwin is bowling the best he has ever bowled in his life. India have quality plus the balance of the side is very good,” said Laxman, who will be part of broadcaster Star Sports’ commentary team for the tour.

The former wristy right-handed batsman lauded the Indian selectors for the squad they picked for the Australia series. However, he thought excluding explosive left-hander Suresh Raina was a bit harsh.

“One batsman who was treated harshly was Raina by not getting selected. It is difficult for a person who bats at No.6 or 7 to come out when the asking rate is 8-10 runs per over,” the 41-year-old said.

“I should compliment the selectors for doing a fantastic job, they have been spot on apart from Raina’s exclusion. This is also an opportunity for the likes of Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Manish Pandey and Rishi Dhawan to do well and get noticed.”

As Mahendra Singh Dhoni has retired from the longest format of the game, he does not play cricket regularly. Laxman feels this will make India’s limited overs skipper struggle a bit when he goes out to bat.

“Dhoni will find it challenging. It is all about match practice and rhythm. Even though he did not get as many runs as he would have liked for Jharkhand in Vijay Hazare Trophy, he still got some match practice of 6-7 games. This will help him. He did not get the same before the South Africa series,” said the Hyderabadi.

The 134-Test match veteran added that India’s success will rest largely on the shoulders of Test captain Virat Kohli and middle-order batsman Ajinkya Rahane.

“Kohli’s aggressiveness is his strong point which will be very important for doing well against Australia that too in Australian conditions. I liked him when he went for victory in the Adelaide Test. When it comes to Tests, he has done well but if you see ODIs, since the World Cup his performance has dipped. But he will be mentally ready,” said Laxman.

“For Rahane, if someone is not tough, you cannot perform the way he did in the Delhi Test against South Africa. He has been consistent and a complete player. He has solid basic techniques, his running between the wickets is fast, he has the big shots and is aggressive which makes him a complete batsman.”

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