Few big names in series, but many an opportunity


The Australians wear intimidation like wizards do cloaks. It defines them, without their swagger, they give the impression they have left their spells behind. In their prime years, intimidation set up a lot of wins; often teams entered a contest unwilling to accept that they could win, or even compete. The actual match was only a confirmation of what both teams knew would happen.

But times have changed. This Australian side has arrived in India almost respectful, they are speaking of challenges and there hasn't been a word yet from the Warne-McGrath school. Maybe they realise they don't have the arsenal but it isn't very Aussie to slip up on the swagger. Wizards don't do suspenders.

But just as this is the least intimidating Australian side to visit India in recent times they will be relieved to know that up against them is one of the weakest Indian bowling sides in the last couple of decades. Since Anil Kumble arrived there hasn't been a weak Indian bowling side at home so we are going back a fair distance. This is a bowling side that has been out-bowled by England a couple of months ago, out-spun in fact. Even when Derek Underwood and later Pat Pocock and Phil Edmonds won England a couple of games, India had spin bowling of equal, or superior, pedigree.

And so this series runs the risk of being defined by who isn't in it. No Dravid, no Laxman, no Zaheer and even a little uneasiness about Tendulkar; no Ponting, no Hussey, no Lee let alone Gilchrist, Hayden, Warne and McGrath. But don't let that worry you because new stars must emerge to replace old ones as those giant names did those that walked before. And that is why I see this as a series of opportunity. There are some wonderful young players on either side who could step out of the shadows and into the arc-lights.

... contd.

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