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Since 1st March, 1999
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Better focus and a better game plan will make difference: Greg
- To win, they (India) have to play positively... Shouldn't soak the pressure, but put it back on Australia: Aussie legend

Southampton: Greg Chappell isn't yet quite the Elder Statesman of cricket, but his views carry punch and are respected. An outstanding batsman and a captain who sought to make a difference, Greg spoke to The Telegraph exclusively about the forthcoming India-Australia series.

The following are excerpts

Q Today, how do you expect the four Tests to go'

A Should be exciting and I'm looking forward to them. In fact, more than anybody else, the players themselves must be looking forward to the contest... After all, at this moment, an India versus Australia face-off is the premier one in world cricket... India won the last series at home (2000-01) and had the upperhand in Australia last season... Australia, then, will be seeking to reverse that.

You've placed the Border-Gavaskar Trophy a notch higher than even the Ashes...

Well, purely in terms of the recent face-offs between the teams and current expectations.

How can Australia reverse the trend, as you put it'

By giving more thought to the challenge and preparing better... It's a definite plus that both Glenn (McGrath) and (Shane) Warne are available and have been picked... Without them, Australia struggled to bowl India out twice last summer...

Is Brett Lee going to be the trump card'

He will be a factor and I think Ricky Ponting is going to use him in short bursts, particularly against the new batsmen.

What are the lessons the Indians need to keep in mind from the last (drawn) series'

To win, they have to play positively... They shouldn't just soak the pressure, but put it back on Australia ' something done in Adelaide with dramatic results. Bottomline is India must be positive even while withstanding pressure.

Of course, Ponting wasn't the captain then, but is there something he ought to remember'

The Australians don't need to do anything too differently... I don't think we played badly at home, only the Indians played very well. But, yes, Ponting and (coach) John Buchanan have to be clear about the line of attack for each frontline batsman... (After a pause) Lee, as I've said, will be an important part of the strategy.

After the visit to Australia, India went to Pakistan while Australia toured Sri Lanka...

(Interrupting) But neither side has played much Test cricket since Sydney...

Is there a worry there's going to be a one-day hangover'

I do realise the first Test (in Bangalore) is just ten days after the Champions Trophy final, but both teams have experienced players who are professional enough to change gear. Still, the side which adjusts quicker will have the early advantage.

Unfortunately, the question mark over Sachin Tendulkar's fitness remains...

I hope he's available... India needs him, the series needs him...

The selectors have picked three specialist spinners (Warne, Nathan Hauritz and Cameron White), but overlooked Stuart MacGill. Was that on the cards'

My understanding is that with Warne fit, they don't need another leggie in the XI... Moreover, when MacGill plays, the batting becomes somewhat unbalanced.

Warne, however, hasn't had it too good in India...

Indeed, he has struggled and, if there's a gap in his list of achievements, it's that he hasn't made a big impression in India.... I reckon he's going to set that right.

If Warne wasn't available for the last series, India missed Harbhajan Singh in three of the four Tests. How do you rate him'

Oh, he's a quality spinner and the Australians are aware how big a factor (32 wickets in three Tests) he was in the last series in India...

There's likely to be a debate over Akash Chopra opening. What are your views'

I favour specialists and specialists prove their worth.

So, where will you put your money'

(Laughs) It's going to be a fifty-fitty contest... Better focus and a better game plan will make the difference.

Who is the one Australian who may have the biggest influence'

Probably Ponting... We haven't seen the best of him and the near future could see that... He's enjoying the captaincy, is comfortable with life... Actually, for Ponting, everything appears to be rosy...

And, the one Indian'

Sourav Ganguly, perhaps... Or, a combination of (Rahul) Dravid, Sourav and (V.V.S.) Laxman... Even Sachin, if he's fit... (Again, after a pause) I can't also rule out your spinners making the biggest impact.

How should Sourav handle the enormous pressure'

By being positive with his approach as a batsman, by being positive with his captaincy. I believe he allowed things to drift a bit in the Sydney Test by being conservative but, otherwise, stood up to the pressure exceedingly well. He must back his bowlers with aggressive field placements and, generally, pull out all the stops. My own opinion is that we haven't yet seen the best of Sourav as captain.

The last question: Do you still regret not having toured India'

I do, yes... It's a gap in my CV which can't be filled... I've got to live with it.

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