Monaco: India and Australia have been embroiled in one of the most intense rivalries in the world of cricket over the last couple of decades.
One of the most famous images that is still etched in the memories (good or bad) of the cricket fans from both the nations is that of the 2001 Kolkata Test, when Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman powered Sourav Ganguly’s India to scintillating comeback victory after being asked to follow-on by the visitors.
While both Ganguly and Waugh have long since retired from the game, the sledging still seems to be going on.
Ganguly had recently come out in the media to say that Australia, who are set to play a four match Test series in India starting next week, run the risk of losing 4-0.
However, Ganguly’s one-time counterpart Steve Waugh believes that the former India captain is being too “optimistic”.
“It will be foolish to write off Australia. I have known this Australian team and they can spring a few surprises. They have some match-winners in the team and I think Sourav is a bit optimistic ... anything can happen,” Waugh said.
“May be he is right, but I will love to challenge Sourav on that part. Certainly, Australia won’t be going to India thinking that they will lose four nil.”
Waugh believes that although the Aussies have some surprise elements in their side, it is the senior players like David Warner, who will be crucial for them.
“We have a few surprises in the team, but it will be the senior players who have to take the responsibility, first up,” said Waugh. “For Australia to win or compete in India, Warner has to score a lot of runs.”
The 51-year-old also went on to criticise the recent trend, where teams tend to do better at home in the longer version of the game.
“Everyone’s form overseas has been dismal and there is no reason for that. Neutral umpires, decisions can be reviewed and there is no excuse for this. I really don’t know what the reasons to lose overseas are. May be, it is a mental thing,” he said.
The ex-Aussie captain however, praised Team India for their recent performances, and lauded Virat Kohli for successfully leading his side to a 19-match unbeaten run in Test cricket.
“This new team India can achieve anything and Virat Kohli’s leadership has been contagious. India will be hard to beat in India and that has been proved in the last couple of years,” said Waugh.
The 51-year-old also had a few special words for India’s star spinner Ravichandran Ashwin: “Ashwin has done some amazing things and he has been the Don Bradman of bowling. Plus, he has been a handy batsman.”...