Zaheer Khan explains why India will face ‘stiffer competition’ from Australia than previous tour

When India toured Australia the last time around, for the first time, they returned home having not lost a series Down Under. Besides their historic triumph in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, India took the ODI series 2-1 and drew the T20I leg 1-1. However, this time around the challenge at hand will be stiffer for India, reckons former fast bowler Zaheer Khan, in the presence of Steve Smith and David Warner, who couldn’t be part of the previous series due to their respective bans.

“Now with the return of Steve Smith and David Warner to the Australian side, the Indian team is definitely going to face a stiffer competition than their previous tour Down Under,” the former India fast bowler said in a release issued by official broadcasters of the series, Sony Pictures Sports Network.

“There are no favourites going into the series as both the sides have quality batting and bowling line-up in their squad and that is what will make the upcoming tour interesting and exciting to watch.”

The rivalry between India and Australia has been traditionally billed as a battle between India’s batsmen and Australia’s bowlers, but with both teams boasting an exceptional bowling stock, Zaheer believes that’s the area where the series could be decided. Australia’s attack comprises a red-hot Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc as fast bowlers while Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Swepson are the two spinners in the squad. India, on the other hand have the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini who are well-equipped to take 20 wickets in a match.

“The Australian pitches have always had good bounce and pace, so I think the area which will decide the ODIs, T20Is and Tests will be the bowlers and how well the team bowls as a unit to restrict the opponent to a lower total on the scoreboard,” said Zaheer, who was part of the 2011 World Cup winning Indian team.

“When someone talks about the top line bowlers in the world right now, the names of the players that come to our mind will all be on the pitch in this series.”

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