India have a huge opportunity to win in Australia: Sachin Tendulkar
Sachin Tendulkar (Getty Images)

Former India batsman Sachin Tendulkar believes India have a golden chance to win their maiden Test series in Australia. Tendulkar, who has been a prolific score for India against Australia in Tests, with 3630 runs in 39 matches, feels the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner provided India a strong chance of doing what no Indian team has done before. India play four Tests against Australia with the first game starting in Adelaide on December 6.

“I think we have a huge opportunity (in Australia). You correctly put it, the Australian team does not look the same Australian side that it used to be and with Smith and Warner not there, this is a great opportunity to go out and do something special,” the former cricketer said on the sidelines of the Tendulkar Middlesex Global Academy at the DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai.

But while Tendulkar did mention how the absence of Smith and Warner is good news for India, he refrained from commenting on whether their bans should be reduced. Smith and Warner, along with Cameron Bancroft were handed suspensions by Cricket Australia for their involvement in ball-tampering scandal in March earlier this year. Recently, the Australian Cricketers Association reiterated its call for the bans on Smith, Warner and Bancroft to be lifted in the light of the findings of the cultural reviews into Australian Cricket, but the decision was overturned.

“I would want to see good cricket for sure (in Australia). They both (Smith and Warner) are world-class players. I don’t want to get into that debate whether the ban should be reduced or not. But I would like to see them, but by no means I am saying or interfering in what their judgment has been. All I am saying in both are world class players,” he said.

With the amount of promise Indian bowlers have shown lately, a lot will depend on how the India pace attack fares on Australia’s lively surfaces. Tendulkar was high on praise for young India pacer Khaleel Ahmed, who made his debut during the Asia Cup and has continued to impress since. In the ongoing series between India and West Indies, Khaleel produced a superb spell of 3 for 13 in the fourth ODI in Mumbai that helped India bundle them out for 153 in chase of 378.

“Khaleel has been good, I have not watched too much of him, but I have seen, he was part of the Mumbai Indians, so I have seen a bit of Khaleel some time ago and recently I saw him on television, again I am saying I have not seen at length, from whatever I have seen he looked good,” said Tendulkar.

The Indian pace attack has shown that it has what it takes to pick up 20 wickets in a Test and the results were evident in South Africa and England earlier this year. However, despite the presence of so many go-to options, Tendulkar feels Jasprit Bumrah will be key for India in the series.

“Good for us if the competition is heating up, why not? Healthy competition is always welcome, that means we have got good fast bowlers, who are sitting on the bench also,” he said.

“Whenever bench strength is also strong, in case there are some injuries at the last moment, you know that someone sitting out is fully geared up and ready to go out and deliver. I think we are in that position at this stage. There is always room for improvement. They want to get better each time they get out on the field. In particular, (Jasprit) Bumrah’s presence is going to be important.”