Former India wicketkeeper Kiran More has pumped up the mind games prior to the start of the India-Australia series on Friday and said that the hosts would win comfortably.
"I feel India has got an edge in this series," said More. "I think it's going to be 2-1 or 2-0. India got their wake-up call in the last series against England (which they lost 1-2); I don't think they are going to make the same mistake again."
Speaking on the sidelines of the Coca Cola Cricket Coaching Camp at Bandra's MIG ground, where he was undertaking a training session of a local university team, More said that Australia's inexperience is going to hurt them in the four-match series.
"The pressure is on Australia. They don't have quality bowlers, especially in the spin department. Why England did well was because they had world-class spinners. So, that made a lot of difference; that put a lot of pressure on the Indian team. This is not the best team that Australia has brought [to India]. Some of their players are coming for the first time here and they are going to play five days of cricket," said More.
However, the 50-year-old warned India against any complacency, saying that Australia is always a tough team to play and are not going to give in easily.
"Australia will also have a game plan. They have many fast bowlers who know to go about it. Shane Watson is very crucial and so is Michael Clarke. These two players are going to be the key to Australia's success," said More.
Talking specifically about Watson, More felt that the all-rounder will play a major role in he series. While there has been a lot of debate as to where Watson would slot in the Australian batting order, More said that the 31-year-old would fit in anywhere.
"He [Watson] has been opening and also batting at No 3. They must be having their game plan. He can bat anywhere. Shane Watson can bat at No 5 and still score a hundred. He's a top-class all-rounder. It doesn't make a difference where he bats," said More.
Regarding India's opening pair, which has also been a topic of discussion, especially with the sacking of Gautam Gambhir, More said he would go in with Virender Sehwag and Murali Vijay up the order.
Content with the 15-member squad picked by the Indian selectors for the first two Tests, More was particularly pleased to see the return of 408-Test veteran Harbhajan Singh into the ranks.
"Being in and out of form is a part of a cricketer's life," said More. "Harbhajan Singh has taken 400 [actually 408] wickets, which is a big thing. He has a lot of experience. Definitely, he can make a great comeback. There are many cricketers who have made comebacks earlier."
The Turbanator had picked up 32 wickets in the epic three-Test series in 2001 between the two countries, and More said that he is predicting another flurry of wickets for 32-year-old.
"I think Harbhajan will take 25 wickets in this series," he said. "We also have Pragyan Ojha and Ravichandran Ashwin. So, the Indian team has a good chance to win.
"I give a lot of credit to Harbhajan; he's a champion cricketer for me. He's one of the greatest cricketers and off-spinners India has ever produced. I rate him very high. The selectors have done a good job," More said.
First Published: February 19, 2013, 6:35 pm