With Australia in turmoil, India are “smelling blood” but Virat Kohli’s men would also be under great pressure to perform during the four-Test series starting here Thursday, coach Justin Langer said Wednesday.
“You sense they’re smelling blood. Just like the great Australian cricket team of 2001 felt and we just fell short (of winning in India) and we were able to (win in) 2004,” Langer told Australian radio channel SEN’s Whateley.
Contrary to the guarded opinions of a few Indian players, the visitors are being touted as favourites against the hosts, who are considerably weakened in the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner.
While Langer is wary of the quality of the opposition, he believes the weight of the past will put pressure on India.
As Langer points out, India’s Test record in Australia is far from impressive. A 1-1 draw in 2004 under Sourav Ganguly was only the third time India avoided defeat Down Under. While an MS Dhoni-led side was blanked 4-0 in 2011-12, run-machine Kohli led from the front in 2014-15 as the visitors put up a valiant fight only to lose 2-0.
“You sense they’re smelling blood. Just like the great Australian cricket team of 2001 felt and we just fell short (of winning in India) and we were able to (win in) 2004. You sense these moments. I’m sensing India feel that,” Langer told SEN’s Whately.
“They’re a good team and they’ve got a couple of great players and we will show them great respect. They haven’t had great success in Australia in the past, as Australia haven’t had in India. They’ll also be under great pressure, I think.”
Talking about the team for the opening Test, Langer said Marcus Harris is likely to make his debut but a decision is yet to be made about whether Peter Handscomb or all-rounder Mitchell Marsh will feature in the playing XI.
“We’re pretty sure Marcus Harris will make his debut which is very exciting for him,” he said.
“He’s scored 500 runs in Shield cricket in eight innings, that’s a great way to go into a Test match. He’s a terrific young player and he’s looked very good in some of the most competitive net sessions I’ve seen for a long time in Australian cricket. He’s looked very composed.
“We’ll make the decision on the last batting spot later today. At this stage I’d say it’ll be either Peter Handscomb or Mitchell Marsh who’ll take the five or six position.”