Melbourne: The retirement of some batting greats and the recent failure to dominate England with spinners on home soil make India a "vulnerable" side in the upcoming Test against Australia, former cricketer Jeff Lawson has commented. The former Australian fast bowler said India's defeat against England despite playing on favourable dust-bowls was a big positive for the visiting Australian side.
"The forthcoming Indo-Aussie Test series presents major challenges for both teams. India have recently lost 2-1 to England on home soil after winning the opening Test. Two conclusions come from that result: that England are tough, confident and classy, and that India are on the wane and are vulnerable," Lawson said.
Lawson said in the absence of Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, combined with ageing stars such as Zaheer Khan, the best India could do was to prepare turning tracks but even this ploy failed against England. "They have an ageing and declining team, and the loss of experienced personnel - and form - by those still getting selected adds up to a fall or at least a stumble in the rankings.
"Spin has been seen as the short-term and interminable response from selectors and grounds staff. When in doubt, revert to type. But India have been beaten at their own dusty game and that result gives Australia significant hope," Lawson wrote in his column for 'The Age'.
Lawson said India's fate in the series, beginning Friday, would hinge on how young batsmen Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli fare. "Virat Kohli was feisty and successful last summer in Australia and is quickly assuming the mantle of the keystone batsmen. He is young and aggressive - just the style India need to maintain a home mental edge that Tendulkar championed for so long.
"Cheteshwar Pujara has been the most recent young-gun find for India and is averaging 58 in his first nine Tests. He was most impressive fending off Jimmy Anderson and holding the middle order together. The fortunes of him and Kohli may well shape the series outcome if the veterans run aground," he wrote.
Lawson also believed that for India to excel, it needs spinners to perform and he also pointed out that they have every chance to trouble Australian batting line-up which has a lot of left-handers.
"Spin is not a problem for India, especially on home surfaces, although Kevin Pietersen dominated them with ultra-aggressive batting. Australia have only a wounded Michael Clarke to assume that role, albeit with a scalpel rather than a sabre. Australia's left-handers will find trouble with Ashwin and Harbhajan turning away to slip," he mentioned.
"India have a new batting order with Gambhir omitted and will not be comforted by Tendulkar or Sehwag's form. Sounds familiar, but at least they have some spin bowlers in form and in familiar conditions, and that may make the difference between two teams coming to terms with England's dominance."