Before the start of each series in India, touring teams are quizzed on spin and their preparation against the challenge. England came and expressed their demur to the same with arrogant disdain. Question is: Can Australia do the same? Mystery is: Will they even need to?
There are a couple of ways to approach Australia's 4-Test series in India, starting February 22. None of them conform to the usual.
Spin is fine but what about pace?
Did you know that Australian pacers have had double the success than their spinning counterparts, in India? That they have claimed 145 wickets at an average of 32.65 between 2001 and 2012 as against less than half claimed by the spinners - 69 at an average of 40.65.
Indians may be more susceptible to pace than spin but the famed sub-continental tracks continue to be largely flat and lifeless. Yet, the success of Australian pacers is testimony to the fact that the hosts need to be wary of the bowlers with the longer run-ups.
Indian spinners are fine but what about their Australian counterparts?
Harbhajan Singh is back in the side once again. His performance in the series may make or break his career for good. This despite a splendid record of 81 wickets against Australia in familiar conditions.
Place this fighter against the spinners from Australia and it is rather clear that while the visitors may have lesser known names manning the spin bureau, their confidence level is way higher.
Post Shane Warne's retirement, two Nathan's have risen to take his spot and have done fairly well for themselves and the national team. While Llyon has claimed 61 wickets from 19 Tests, Hauritz (not in the present side) has scalped 58 from 16. Add skipper Michael Clarke to the fray and one will get an infantry unit that will relish the given conditions. And lest we forget the part-timers - Steven Smith, Glenn Maxwell and Xavier Doherty.
Indian tracks are fine but are they really craters of spinning delight?
If Phillip Hughes is to be believed, Indian tracks are not what they were a decade or two back. While the South Australia batsman - someone with the distinction of being the first Australian to score an ODI ton on debut - still considers the series to be a massive challenge, he has downplayed the impact of spin.
Earlier, England downplayed the same impact. Strangely enough, spin did have an impact but it were Monty Panesar, Graeme Swann and James Tredwell (in ODIs) who were making statisticians sweat.
Clearly then, the India vs Australia series may have twists and turns but it may or may not be all from the Indian spinners. To say this is a contest between India's spin troika and Australian batsmen would be a gross mis-judgement on multiple levels. To say that spin may well be Australia's Achilles heel would once again be blasphemy - as earlier proven by the English.
This is a complete contest where the team with the more will to win, will win.
(All stats by Rajesh Kumar)
Note: Views expressed above are that of the author and may or may not be that of NDTV)