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Captain allays adjustment fears

Mumbai: Captain Anil Kumble and his men left for Australia on Monday, aiming to do what no other Indian teams have done before — conquer the Australians in their backyard.

The Team India squad left by a morning flight to Singapore en-route to Melbourne, firm in belief that it has the wherewithal to bring to the knees the mighty Australians on high-bounc- ing pitches against fiery speedsters.

“We had a very good series against Pakistan. We won the one-day as well as the Test series which is a confidence booster for doing well in Australia,” insisted Kumble, who will hand over the reins to one-day and twenty20 captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and return at the end of the four-Test rubber.

“We have the quality. We have enough experience of Australian conditions to adjust. The potential in the side and the players’ experience will help,” he said.

India have won rubbers in all Test playing nations barring Australia and South Africa.

“We have played lot of cricket and have 10 days before the first Test to get adjusted,” Kumble said, brushing aside any suggestions of insufficient preparation time.

As a reflection of India’s confident mood, teammate Harbhajan Singh was quoted as saying in a Melbourne newspaper that Australia are short on spin bowling options. The tweaker felt that Indian batsmen would feast on spinner Brad Hogg if the left-armer is selected for the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.

“Without (Shane) Warne and (Stuart) MacGill, there are no quality spinners in Australia,” Harbhajan said.

“It would be interesting to see how Hogg goes against the best players of spin. It would be a big test for him… We all know how he bowls.”

“He is not close to the class of Warne and MacGill. If they play Hoggy, I wish him all the best because I have nothing against him… I would be happy to see him bowl at our batsmen. If you look at our line-up, we have players like Sourav (Ganguly), V.V.S. (Laxman), Sachin (Tendulkar) and Rahul (Dravid). They’re all great players of spin,” he said.

Hogg has had two first-class five-wicket hauls this season, along with solid one-day International form and is the obvious choice to replace MacGill.

Harbhajan, though, felt that the West Australian could struggle to make the transition to Tests after a four-year hiatus.

“One-day and Test bowling are very different for a spinner,” he said. “There would be a lot of pressure on Hogg.”

With speedster Shaun Tait in menacing form, Australian selectors could also opt for an all pace attack to rattle Anil Kumble’s side.

Harbhajan, who accused the Australians of boorish and vulgar behaviour during the recent limited-over series in India, also warned that India would not be intimidated by verbal volleys unleashed by Ricky Ponting’s men. (AGENCIES)

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