VVS Laxman has declared India firm favourites for the upcoming Border-Gavaskar Trophy, predicting that the numero uno Test side will win the four-match Test series Down Under 3-1.
India have never won a Test series in Australia, with its best result being a 1-1 draw in 2003-04. The much-anticipated Test series starts with the Adelaide Test on December 6.
"I expect the series to close 3-1 in India's favour. I don't see any draws in Australian conditions. I don't think India would have a better opportunity. And I am not saying so because there is no Steve Smith and Dave Warner. I am saying this because they have the potential. I got it totally wrong in England when I thought India will win 4-1. But I think they have the ability," Laxman told Aajtak.
Australian Cricket is possibly at their all-time low after the ball-tampering saga led to severe bans on Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft. Smith and Warner are in their eighth month of the 12-month suspension, while Bancroft will be eligible to return in December after serving his 9-month period.
"There is no doubt about it. I have been playing in Australia since 1999. At home I first played a Test against them in 1996. They were legendary players. Ones who could go out and win matches not just at home but away too. The character of those teams was they would not give up so easily. They believed in their abilities. I can't see that in this Australian team," Laxman remarked.
"Justin Langer became their coach and he showed through his career that he may not have such talent but he would maximise his potential through hard work. That's the attitude I would like to see of this Australian team. But I agree this is the weakest Australian team I have seen in my career," he further remarked.
Laxman also urged other Indian batsmen to rally around their talismanic skipper Virat Kohli, who is on a record-breaking spree this year. Despite playing the majority of Test matches outside Asia, Kohli is averaging 59.05 in red-ball cricket with over 1000 runs this year, while his ODI average read 133.55 in 14 matches in this calendar year.
"Virat makes a big difference. If you look at the past four or five years, he has been batting at another level and creating new records consistently. When you are committed to something and all you are thinking is how to better yourself, results reflect automatically and this is something one notices in Virat Kohli's career,” Laxman asserted.
"And if you look at it this year, he had a wonderful tour of England. This after he had a horrible tour in 2014. The way he prepared himself in areas that troubled him and now to make it his strong point. He now knows all about his off stump and all this through patience and determination.
"So look Virat will score. Whether others can score close to or like him in Australia, one will have to wait and see. I think the team has class and potential. I think they need to trust their ability. If they do that this team will do well in Australia," he elaborated.
Laxman tipped Kohli and company to not repeat the mistakes which cost them quite a few Test matches in South Africa and England.
"It's a very important tour not just for Virat the captain but for this side. Because it's a team that has the ability to go and win away. Batsmen have the experience. Bowlers are fantastic. They even have three quality spinners; so there are options. In Test cricket overseas, you need to capitalise when you get opportunities. You need to win the big moments something India did not do in South Africa and England,” he said.
"Another thing they need to do is to post big first innings totals. That's when you can dictate terms. If you perform below par in the first innings than you will be playing catch up and get into a defensive mindset. If you can deliver above par scores in the first innings, not just at par, your bowlers will compliment you with 20 wickets," Laxman concluded.