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Battle of captains: McGrath

Calcutta/Melbourne: Glenn McGrath feels the upcoming Test series between India and Australia could see a keen leadership contest, with both captains seeking to make a mark for different reasons.

McGrath said that it will be a test of character and leadership skills for both Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Michael Clarke and how they marshal their players could be the key in the keenly awaited series.

“It’s sure that the series is going to be keenly contested and both captains I think would try to be up there,” McGrath said.

“Dhoni is under pressure as India lost against England at home under him. But it’s a chance for him to make amends. He is respected by all teams and it will be an important series for him,” McGrath told a television channel.

“Clarke has enjoyed the best year and rightfully he is the best Australian player. He would want to do well against India in India which would be another big achievement for him. So, it’s going to be an interesting series,” he said.

Meanwhile, Jeff Lawson has said the retirement of some batting greats and the recent failure to dominate England with spinners on home soil make India a “vulnerable” side.

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 Test series presents major challenges for both teams. India have recently lost 1-2 to England at home. 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. Spin has been seen as the short-term and interminable response from selectors. 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.

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.”