Michael Clarke says Australia will not be intimidated by India
He refused to get into a war of words with Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh who said that the home side would win the series 4-0 nor dwell on the recent poor results of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men.
Australian captain Michael Clarke sought to dismiss talks of his side's vulnerability against spin bowling, saying they would not be intimidated by the home team's slow bowlers in the high-profile Test series starting here on Friday.
Addressing a press-conference after the team's training session, Clarke said he has got a side which can achieve success in India.
"We will not certainly be intimated by the player whom we are playing against. We need to have success from every single delivery that we face. We have got a good squad, we have got plenty of good choices in spin bowling, batting and fielding," Clarke said.
"I do not think that we can look too much into how India is going to play and what conditions will suit them best. In Indian conditions the ball spins as the pitch deteriorates and also has variations and bounces as well. I think the reverse swing is also very important. But, as I said we have the capability to do well in India," he said.
He refused the take the bait on Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh's remarks that the home side would win the series 4-0 nor dwell on the recent poor results of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men.
"India is a fantastic cricket team, even better around their back yards. So, the focus of the Australian team is not on Indian team but completely on us to make sure that we are well prepared as we can be. Make sure that we do the right things to play the brand of cricket that we want to play," said Clarke when asked if India would be under pressure after their recent loss at home against England.
"We take a lot of confidence out of the Australian summer and we competed really well against South Africa, the number one Test team in world. We beat Sri Lanka in a most recent Test series. The guys are full of confidence and looking forward to the challenges," he said.
On Harbhajan's remarks, Clarke simply said, "It is nice to see him back in the squad. He is a wonderful player and a very competitive cricketer and loves challenge of playing against any opposition, especially Australia. I think he is a very good bowler and we have to play well to make sure he does not have too much of an effect on the series.
"In regard to result on the series, I am now focusing on the first Test and would like to take one match at a time," said the Australian captain.
Asked about his players' failure against spin in the practice games, Clarke said the slow bowlers got more wickets as they bowled more overs.
"At the end of day you have to get out to somebody. The more overs that somebody bowls, he will take more wickets. The spinners' bowled a lot of overs and they got lot of wickets. Moreover, the conditions would be different in the Test match compared to what was there in the practice game," he said.
"But, it's again one of the areas we continue to improve as we are to face lot of spin bowling when we play against India in all four Test matches and certainly in the first Test in Chennai. Our boys have been training hard and preparations have been fantastic," he added.
He disagreed with the view that his side would struggle in the absence of Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey in tough Indian conditions and said he would look forward to leading from the front.
"No doubt, it's a challenge but I don't think it's any bigger as Ricky and Hussey are not here. It's an opportunity for a couple of senior members of the team to stand up. Our boys have been training as hard as possibly they can. That is my main focus to make sure for us to be well prepared as we can be. I am hundred per cent fit and looking forward to the series, scoring runs and leading from the front.
Asked about the likely impact of Sachin Tendulkar, who struggled in the recent Test series against England, Clarke said, "Sachin got a hundred most recently. So, I think he is in really good form. He is a huge player for India and we have to just try and get him out as early as possible as he knows how to make lot of runs and big hundreds." On the lessons learnt and positives got by his side from the two practice matches, Clarke said, "The real positives are playing in these conditions. Our guys have had some cricket under their belts ahead of the first Test is real positive. The fact that they faced lot of spin bowling and reverse swing bowling and playing in the game is better than batting in the nets and the preparation we got has been fantastic."
Clarke said he was confident that dashing opening batsman David Warner would play in the first Test in Chennai.
"Warner has improved and continually improves every day. He faced bowlers at the net today. At this stage, I am very confident that he will be fielded in the first Test," he said.
On the slot for Shane Watson, Clarke said, "We have not picked our team at this stage and I do not have the batting order at this stage. But, Shane has been in good form these days. He played very well in both the innings in the three day practice game. He will come back into our team. I am not sure about what position he will be batting."
Clarke occasionally bowls left-arm spin and he said he would have to do it in India if the need arises.
"Look, I think, it is part of your job and responsibility that you want to be the best you can be. You want to help the team win. This is what is most important to me. If I have to bowl, I look forward to that. I want to make sure that I am scoring runs and that is my first and main focus.
"Like I said everybody in the team have to score runs and contribute. It is going to take the full squad of players and support staff in the next six weeks to have success in India."
He also said that his side would play their brand of cricket and not what England had done recently.
"I do not think anybody (any country) is invincible. It's always tough to beat an opposition in their backyard. I think England played very well. I did see some footage of the recent England series against India. But that will have no bearing on us and we will try and play the Australian way. We will not be looking to play like England," Clarke said.
"We have spin bowling options. Australian strength now for a while has been fast bowling. We will assess conditions before selecting our squad for the first Test. I think we need to do what is best for Australian cricket team," he added.
Clarke said the exposure of many Australians cricketers playing in India in the IPL has made it a bit easier to adapt to the conditions.
"It is never easy to play in India. It is really tough conditions. Always it has been a hard place to win for the Australian teams. I think the IPL and the Champions League have played a huge part in regard to international players getting used to the country and the conditions and the culture.
"I think it certainly helped in regard to just about everybody in Australian squad had been to India for IPL or Champions League. But in saying that Test cricket is lot different to T20 cricket like I said it is always a tough tour to come here and have success. We have to be at our best to do that."