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Hardik Pandya is a player for the long run as because he has been been put under all the three formats of the game and he has proved in them all, the amount of quality shot he plays is just amazing
They have contributed a lot towards the game but have entertained the world with their superb performances they put on the field and their contributions are worth mentioning
The India-Australia rivalry seems to have usurped the space left behind by the lack of bilateral cricket between India and Pakistan. How do you see this rivalry shaping up?
Being an Australian, I have relished the battle for the Ashes with England, but having played against India in India and also back home, I can tell you that an India-Australia series is no different. The contests have become more intense, as you would expect when two top teams in the world go hard at each other. Also, with top Australian players spending so much time in India because of the IPL, I expect more great contests in future.
Do you reckon that for India-Australia rivalry to assume greater significance, India need to win a big series in Australia and vice-versa?
I think the biggest challenge for all international teams, including India and Australia, is to win overseas. All international teams are increasingly becoming hard to beat in home conditions, but struggle to win abroad. To be a stand-out team, one has to perform consistently well in all conditions.
Why are teams struggling to win away from home?
It is not a new phenomenon. For a long time now, it has been hard for teams to win away from home. During my career, Australia were the No. 1 side in the world for a long period of time, yet during that period, we only won the series in 2004, but not a single Ashes series in England. In contrast, we were virtually unbeatable at home. I suppose players find it easier to handle home conditions which are familiar to them. The real challenge is to master the conditions abroad.
How do you rate the current Indian team?
India are the No. 1 Test side in the world. They are a very good team. They have a huge opportunity as they are slated to play South Africa, England and Australia abroad over the next 15 months. If they win those three series, they will certainly rank as a great outfit – perhaps one of the best-ever Indian sides.
Do you agree that the shorter formats of the game have adversely affected Test cricket with so many top players opting out of the longest format?
I don’t quite agree. What is happening is a lot of senior players are opting out of the longer format at the back end of their careers. AB de Villiers has played over 100 Tests, JP Duminy too has been around for a while. I haven’t heard of a junior player who doesn’t want to play Test cricket. I think the shorter formats, including the T20 franchise leagues, have contributed enormously to the growth of the game. Without T20 cricket, we might not have seen a David Warner or a Hardik Pandya.
Conventionally, the route to Test cricket was through first-class matches. What do you think of the latest trend where cricketers are graduating to from T20 to ODIs to Test cricket?
I see nothing wrong with that. It sure is another option. My numbers in first-class cricket were not great, but I did well in the shorter format which earned me Test selection. To me, it doesn’t matter how you get there. What matters is whether you are ready when you are there and perform.
You have been a middle-order batsman all your life. Do you think there is a case for MS Dhoni to bat higher up the order?
He can bat wherever he likes. If the Indian team feels he needs to bat at No. 4 or No. 5 or No. 6, I don’t think he will have any problem. I don’t think India need to change anything right now.
What are the challenges of batting at No. 4 as opposed to coming in at No. 6 or 7?
In a 50-over game, it doesn’t matter what position you are in. What matters is the match situation and how many overs are left. He assessed the situation very well in Chennai and batted beautifully.
If you were the Indian captain where would you bat Dhoni, keeping in mind the 2019 World Cup?
I would prefer to have Dhoni batting at No. 5. With Virat Kohli at No. 3 and Dhoni at No. 5, the youngsters in the team can bat around them. In my book Dhoni is one of the best middle-order players to have played one-day cricket.He knows how to read an innings sums up the conditions and sets up the game, or wins it for his team. How many times have we seen him doing that? And let’s not forget that he is still the best wicket-keeper in the world.
You were regarded as the best player of spin in the Australian team. Are you amused by all the ‘spin talk’ in the ongoing ODI series?
I think most Australian players are not picking Kuldeep Yadav. Look, the key to play spin bowling is to pick which way the ball is going. The best way is to read it early from the bowler’s hand. There wasn’t one spinner I couldn’t pick out of their hand, Murali [Muttiah Muralitharan] and Warnie [Shane Warne] included. The idea is to keep watching the ball as closely as you can. As they say, you’ve got to see it to hit it.
How do you see this series panning out?
I think Australia can still win the series, but for that they need to find a way to win in Kolkata. The conditions here should suit them and they need to make it count.