Despite unimpressive overseas record, AB de Villiers backs India to beat Australia
AB de Villiers feels India can beat Australia during their tour Down Under later this year. (Getty Images)

With India’s high-profile tour of Australia approaching, more and more players are coming up with their favourites to win the series Down Under. And the latest inclusion in none other than one of the most feared batsman to have played the game, AB de Villiers. The former South African batsman, who announced his retirement from international cricket in May backed India to beat Australia and retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

Despite possessing an unimpressive record overseas and losing to South Africa and England earlier this year, de Villiers believes that India have a pretty good chance to register their first Test series win on Australia soil this time around. The first of the four Tests begin on December 6 in Adelaide.

“They have a very good chance, to be honest with you. They came to South Africa, probably played better cricket (but lost 1-2). Lost in England now but once again first Test was on a knife’s edge and could have gone either way, which would have changed the whole complexion of the series,” de Villiers said on Saturday.

“Going to Australia now, I think if they can keep the fast bowlers fit they have a very good chance. I saw some of the guys were not hundred percent fit (Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar but have recovered now). If they can get all the fast bowlers ready, if not the best, they are one of the best bowling attacks in the world at the moment. And we know what the batting unit is capable of.”

In the absence of David Warner and Steve Smith, and the kind of form the Indian pacers demonstrated in South Africa and England, India surely have an upper hand, at least on paper. Add to that the injury sustained to Usman Khawaja, who is all but likely to miss the four-Test series and those chances increase. But batting overseas has been a big concern for Virat Kohli’s team, evident from their inability to chase down the 200-run targets. De Villiers believes India need to start the series well and avoid a situation where they are either trailing or chasing the series.

“They have got to take the opportunity, especially going to Australia. If you slip first Test match there, it becomes a snowball. Actually anywhere in the world, the minute you are playing away from home, the way you start is very important. They slipped in South Africa and England and it snowballed (into a series loss),” de Villiers added.

“(If visiting team gets to choose and there is no toss) it will force the home side to make an even wicket. And obviously the visiting team will decide on what it wants to do based on the conditions. Having said that, there is no better feeling than to tour and win (despite all challenges). It is the greatest feeling (to win in places like India and Australia). I would not want to change that.”