Selection committee chairman Kris Srikkanth expressed confidence that the Indian cricket team named on Saturday can achieve the rare feat of beating Australia in a Test series at their own soil in next month’s tour of that country.
“If you ask me today whether this team can beat Australia in Australia, I would say I’m very confident. With the grace of god we should beat Australia in Australia in a Test series,” Srikkanth told reporters after announcing the 17-member squad for the Test series in Australia.
“Let’s look forward to a great Australia tour. Let’s pray that this side beats Australia in Australia, which has been a cherished dream for every Indian cricketer and every Indian fan,” he said after the selection committee meeting.
He said the selectors have chosen a balanced side, taking into account fitness of the players for the gruelling tour which begins with the first Test in Melbourne (December 26-30).
“We have chosen a balanced side, taking everything into account, including fitness and Australian conditions. Our batsmen and bowlers are in form. Now we have all kinds of bowlers, fast, medium fast, swing bowlers, spinners -- left arm and off spin. So depending on conditions there the team management will select the team on a match-to match basis,” said the former captain.
On out of form off-spinner Harbhajan Singh being ignored for the tour, Srikkanth said, “Unfortunately, we cannot help it as the team selects itself. In Australia, you cannot have more than two spinners. Pragyan Ojha and Ashwin are doing an excellent job.
“Sometimes it becomes bad luck, sometimes people miss out. I’m sure everyone has their own time and space to come back,” he explained.
He said some of the selectors have played in Australia and they have applied their minds in picking the players for the tour.
“We have Mohinder Amarnath who has played a lot of cricket in Australia. I have also played a few matches in Australia. Then we have Narendra Hirwani who too has played in Australia. We have all put our minds together as to what we need to beat Australia in Australia a Test series.”
Pace spearhead Zaheer Khan, who missed most part of the England tour and ongoing series against the West Indies because of hamstring and ankle injury, has been provisionally named in the squad subject to passing the fitness test.
And Srikkanth said that by the time the team would leave for Australia, Zaheer would get enough time to prove his fitness in a couple of Ranji Trophy games.
“As far as Zaheer is concerned, he will play in a couple of Ranji Trophy matches. And once is he fully match-fit and everything is fine, he will join the side. He may also go with the team, as by the time (the team leaves) he would have played a couple of Ranji matches,” insisted Srikkanth.