Australia might look an “unsettled” team due to a few setbacks and sweeping changes in the past six months, but former captain Steve Waugh still foresees Michael Clarke's men winning 2-1 against India in the Test series starting next month.
Australia, a team struggling to retain its aura in a period of transition, will square off against India in a four-match Test series starting on December 26.
“It's a difficult one, but Australia might spring a surprise and win 2-1,” Waugh said.
Waugh, who was part of the review committee on whose recommendation changes were made to the team set-up, said Australia will take time to gel as a team after having a new coaching staff in place.
Plenty of changes
“We've got through a lot of changes in the last six months in Australian cricket. I was part of the Argus review which made a lot of recommendations. Some of those are just being implemented,” Waugh said.
“New coach Mickey Arthur, new group of selectors with Clarke and Arthur part of it, so it's a period of change in Australian cricket and may have unsettled the team a little bit.
“So it's probably our biggest danger right now. I see guys out on the park being talented enough to beat any team, but they haven't been together for a long time,” he added.
Asked if it is India's best chance to beat the Aussies in their own backyard, Waugh said at least that is the mindset Dhoni's men should have for the tough assignment.
Not easy to beat
“Australia still has world-class players, some youngsters coming in and we are very difficult to beat in Australia, no matter what team we put out in front of our home crowds and home conditions,” he said.
“It's a lot like coming to India and playing in Indian conditions, for any touring side it's always difficult to win away. And particularly in Australia. A hostile environment for opposition teams, spectators are very one-sided and our pitches suit our bowlers more than in any other country,” Waugh said.
Recalling the infamous 2008 series in which the two sides were embroiled in ‘monkeygate' scandal, Waugh hoped that the bitterness has been forgotten. Hope that it doesn't play on the minds of the teams.
“It's good sometimes that you create some tradition and history and it wasn't the best thing to look back on.
“It created headlines, a lot of publicity, got people talking about cricket. It was unfortunate it happened and unfortunate the way it was handled and kept going on and on.
But these are two different sides so it's best to forget the past and move on,” he said.
Waugh felt if the injured Zaheer Khan, who has been provisionally taken in the squad, fails to turn up match fit, India could find itself in a soup.
“Absence of Zaheer would obviously matter as it gives India the edge. He's been a world-class quick over the last few years” he said.
Talking about the youngsters in the Indian team, Waugh said they bring with them the element of surprise which might be tough for the Aussies to handle.
“I think it's going to be the surprise element of your bowlers. Just recently watched a bit against the West Indies, so I liked the young quicks you got — Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron.
“I also liked the two spinners (R. Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha). They've done a good job and complement each other well.
So, they are bowlers the Aussies haven't seen much. As such they will be a danger,” he said. — PTI