Melbourne: Teen pace sensation Pat Cummins' injury-forced absence from the India-Australia Test series has made it an "even" contest and the hosts will need greentops to contain the famed batting line-up of the visiting side, feels former Aussie captain Steve Waugh.
India and Australia will square off in a four-match Test series starting on December 26 and though Waugh says it is hard to pick a favourite but Cummins' absence might hurt the hosts a lot.
"I'd have felt more comfortable if we had Cummins in the line-up. His absence maybe sways the series back to it being a very even contest. It'll also depend upon the type of pitches we play on," Waugh told The Sydney Morning Herald.
"India like slow turning, slow tracks and if we dish a few of those up, they'll be hard to beat ... if we get them on green tops and it's bouncing, we'll be right in it," he added.
Waugh said injury to key players such as Cummins, Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris has weakened Australia.
"It's the biggest issue in Australian cricket, the injury situation. Why is it happening? Is there a way we can prevent it? Is there something we can do better or do differently? This spate of injuries to the young players is a major concern," he said.
"It's a tragedy to think the Boxing Day Test - a showpiece event - won't have Pat Cummins versus Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar.
"Cummins and James Pattinson, the young guns, going up against the legends would've been worth the price of admission itself. It's a shame for the game, for the spectators and especially for Pat himself. As I said, we need to work out why it's happening and what we need to do differently," he added.
The 18-year-old fast bowler injured his heel early into the second Test against South Africa. Waugh once again warned Cummins against the lure of IPL cash.
"The priority has to be to play for Australia; the baggy green needs to be number one. There's definitely money to be made in the IPL but for a young guy with his potential and star quality, Cummins has the potential to make a lot of money from cricket. The IPL needs to be way down on his radar at the moment," he said.
On wether former captain Ricky Ponting should setp down following the harsh criticism of his poor form, Waugh said it is upto Ponting to take the call.
"The only person who can answer that is Ricky. He'll be, I'm sure, very honest with himself. Can he score more runs? Can he improve? Does he have the passion? ... They're the questions only he can answer," he said.