Australia v India Tests
Worst Aussie team to go to India: Harbhajan
Former Test spinner labels Steve Smith's side as the weakest Australian team to arrive on India's shores
21 February 2017, 11:58 AM AEST
After recently predicting Australia could lose all four Tests on their Qantas Tour of India, Harbhajan Singh has gone a step further and labelled Steve Smith’s side as the worst team from Down Under to ever set foot on Indian soil.
Harbhajan last week echoed his former India captain Sourav Ganguly by forecasting a decisive series win for the hosts in the four-Test series.
Quick Single: Harbhajan predicts Aussies to struggle
"If Australia play well, India will win 3-0. That is if Australia play well," he told The New Daily. "Otherwise, 4-0."
And the provocative off-spinner, who has played against Australia in each of their last six tours of India, has ramped up his rhetoric ahead of the first Test in Pune on Thursday.
"I have played against some of the best Australian sides,” Harbhajan told PTI. “In my opinion, looking at the composition, this is the weakest Australian side to tour India.
“I don't think this team has the wherewithal to cope with a quality Indian side in the Indian conditions.
“It can again be 4-0 like 2013 season."
Harbhajan’s high-water mark against Australia came in 2001, when the man dubbed ‘The Turbanator’ devastated Steve Waugh’s side with 32 wickets in a thrilling three-Test series.
After comprehensively winning the first Test on that tour, Australia famously lost the second match after enforcing the follow-on as Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman combined for a 376-run stand to turn the match, and the series, on its head.
Harbhajan believes the current Australia side is lacking the depth of that 2001 outfit and will struggle against India spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, the International Cricket Council’s No.1 and No.2 ranked Test bowlers.
"That team in 2001 had Matthew Hayden, Michael Slater, Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh,” the 36-year-old continued.
“In this team, if you take Steve Smith and David Warner out, I don't think this batting line-up can offer resistance to Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
“Both know how to get wickets on the Indian tracks."
Quick Single: Lehmann closes in on first Test XI
Australia undoubtedly head into the series against the ICC’s top-ranked Test side as outsiders, having not won a match on the subcontinent since 2011. Their most recent Test victory on Indian soil came in 2004.
India are undefeated in their previous 20 home Tests and even England, who scored 400 or more on three occasions in their five-Test series in November-December, were swept aside 4-0 by Virat Kohli’s side.
That doesn’t bode well for Australia according to Harbhajan, with the 103-Test veteran rating England’s batting as more accomplished.
"I believe the England team that toured India recently were a better batting outfit (than Australia),” he said.
“They scored 400 plus runs on a multiple occasions.
“It's not going to happen with this Australian side.”
India (for first two Tests): Virat Kohli (c), Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ravichandaran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Karun Nair, Jayant Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav, Abhinav Mukund, Hardik Pandya.
Australia: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Ashton Agar, Jackson Bird, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Stephen O'Keefe, Matthew Renshaw, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade
Australia's schedule in India
Feb 23-27, First Test, Pune
Mar 4-8, Second Test, Bengaluru
Mar 16-20, Third Test, Ranchi
Mar 25-29, Fourth Test, Dharamsala