We are extremely motivated to beat Australia: Ishant Sharma
Ishant Sharma's experience will be key for India in Australia. (Getty Image)

Perhaps for the first time in as long as the mind can recollect, it is India who start favourites against Australia in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy Down Under. Despite an underwhelming record overseas, Virat Kohli’s team seems to have the edge over Australia ahead of the four-match Test series starting December 6 in Adelaide, who are not only without the star duo of Steve Smith and David Warner, but are also in the middle of a slump, coming off a 0-1 loss to Pakistan in the UAE.

WATCH: Ishant Sharma speaks to reporters at the SCG

But while India might be the team on paper, rest assured, Australia, as per Ian Chappell, will come after India’s throat. One person who will be familiar with it is senior fast bowler Ishant Sharma, who is making his fourth trip to Australia since his first one in 2007. India have never won a Test series in Australia, and despite the stiff competition that awaits them, the fast bowler asserts that the current bunch of players are geared up to create history this time around.

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“We are very motivated. The main aim is to win the series, and everybody is focussing on that. We aren’t even thinking about individual performances. It’s about wanting to win a Test series in Australia,” Ishant said.

“If you ask me, this team is passionate and motivated. Even when we played in South Africa and England, we were charged up to win a series abroad. That is the biggest oppourtunity for us right now, because we have the balance in the team and players who can do things for us. All this is pretty promising.”

Ishant is part of a strong India pace attack, which comprises Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami. As has been the case in the last two series, India’s pace attack has impressed massively, picking up 20 wickets in almost every game, and it tilts the balance in India’s favour. Having played for 11 years and picked up 19 wickets from 10 Tests in Australia, Ishant’s experience of playing in these conditions earlier would be useful for India, although he dismisses the idea of it putting pressure on him.

“Obviously, when you’re playing for India, the pressure is there. But I think it’s a great opportunity as well because we have healthy competition within the team with lot of fast bowlers proving themselves,” Ishant said. “So you have to keep performing in order to keep a place in the team. We did well in the last two tours, in South Africa and England. So, we are not even thinking about it from a pressure point of view. We are viewing it as a strong opportunity to do well.”

India play a three-day tour match against Cricket Australia XI starting Wednesday.