The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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India will be hard to beat: Steve

Sydney: India have selected an experienced squad with few surprises for the four-Test series here, Australian captain Steve Waugh said on Monday.

Waugh said the Indian line-up, announced on Sunday, appeared to be a quality side. “I see they’ve got five seamers, so obviously they feel as if they need a few quick bowlers in Australia,” he said.

“But it’s a pretty experienced squad with not too many surprises and they’re a quality side, so they’re going to be hard to beat.”

Captain Sourav Ganguly, deputy Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and V.V.S. Laxman form an experienced middle-order, while spin will be in the hands of the seasoned Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble.

Left-arm pacemen Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra lead India’s new-ball attack in the absence of the retired Jawagal Srinath, with Ajit Agarkar, Avishkar Salvi and Irfan Pathan providing the support role. Waugh said he was unsure how many of Australia’s frontline pace attack would be available for the start of the Test series.

However, he said it was good to see Jason Gillespie on the comeback from injury after being named in the South Australian squad to play New South Wales in Adelaide from Tuesday.

“Good on him, he’s a quality bowler, probably the best bowler in the world at the moment, so we certainly respect him,” Waugh said.

The Indians, who leave for Australia on Friday, will play two warm-up matches before the first Test at the Gabba in Brisbane from December 4.

The second Test will be played in Adelaide from December 12-16 followed by the third at Melbourne (December 26-30) and the fourth at Sydney (January 2-6). The team for the subsequent one-day series also featuring Zimbabwe will be named later.

History suggests that India, who have not won a Test series outside the sub-continent since 1986, face a harrowing time in Australia.

They have failed to win a series in seven previous tours of Australia, with the last of their three victories in 28 Tests down under coming way back in 1981 on a rare spinning wicket in Melbourne. On the last two tours of Australia in 1991-1992 and 1999-2000, India lost seven of their eight Test matches, five of them inside four days.

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