Smith admits Australia are `underdogs` in Test series against India

Smith admits Australia are `underdogs` in Test series against India

Merciless but never contemptuous. Yes, the opening partnership has been a worry but given Cheteshwar Pujara's great form, and the incandescence that has marked Virat Kohli's batting, there hasn't yet been a crisis. Since then, they have won series against New Zealand, England and Bangladesh at home and beaten West Indies in the Caribbean.

"Starc is a world-class bowler, we all know that".

This is the current frame of mind India are in. Steve Smith is skipper of a new-look side but there's plenty of survivors from the squad that endured the horrors of "homeworkgate". And it will be no different when off-spinner Nathan Lyon leads the Australian spin brigade as they go after Virat Kohli & Co in the first of the four-Test series that begins at the Maharashtra Cricket Association stadium here tomorrow. That's what I'm trying to create, an environment where each one learns from the other and then tries to find a solution on the field and off it as well.

"Every match and series for us is challenging, we don't see any series as high or low", said Kohli. As a leader of the team, we want to do well.

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This coupled with the fact India have utilised eight different opening combinations and the preferred KL Rahul-Murali Vijay duo average less than 19 runs per innings together, provides the flawless opportunity for Australia to make early inroads, and force the Indian middle order bulwark to deal with Starc and the new ball. I guess that's part of the thinking behind potentially playing three spinners. "We are playing on the same wickets as they are, so there are no excuses", he explained. "But it's going to spin there's no doubt about that - I'm pretty certain about that".

"We don't tend to focus too much on our oppositions".

The captain seemed to be satisfied with the performance of fast bowlers in recent matches and said, "Pace bowlers doing well has been a massive factor in us winning series". We are not treating the series as too different from what we have done in the past. Everyone feeling confident, that's the most important thing. If you are not feeling good mentally, you could have any combination you are up against or you could play with any combination, that won't work.

"We know it's going to be hard", he said. Smith is now ranked No. 1 just above Kohli. But for India, the challenge is not if Ashwin will click, it is who will score the runs at the top and middle order with Australia's bowling assault in sublime form?

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Australia are the underdogs for sure.

These records against spin suggest Australia can not expect much in India from Maxwell, Khawaja or Wade. It is the talk, however, that has been most surprising. The words "not anxious about the results, important to get the processes right", were repeated ad nauseum by then captain and coach alike. Throughout his press conference Steven Smith would punctuate that it was going to be a tough series, that they are here to compete, the need to show fight, about staying motivated and not worrying about the results.

"Yes in all those matches that we have played and all those situations that we were in, each one has come up and found a solution to it". It means second and third day pitches are still good to bat on but also that when the second innings starts, there is a lot more time left in the game.

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