MUMBAI (Reuters) - Australia skipper Steve Smith believes a test series victory over an all-conquering India side on their home soil could provide the kind of memories that would inspire the country’s cricketers for generations to come.
Top-ranked India are on a brilliant run, unbeaten in 19 tests over a 16-month period with South Africa, New Zealand, England and Bangladesh all vanquished at home, while trips to Sri Lanka and West Indies also culminated in victories.
By contrast, Smith’s side were thrashed 3-0 in Sri Lanka and lost the first two tests of a three-match home series against South Africa before wholesale changes led to a consolation win in Adelaide and the new charges went on to sweep aside Pakistan.
Smith believes Australia have learnt from those defeats and are now a much improved side.
“You probably learn more from losing games than you do from winning, so I guess the last year has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride in regards to results,” Smith told reporters in Mumbai on Tuesday, a week ahead of the first test.
“I think this team has come a long way,” he added as he looked forward to the four-match series.
”Obviously, this is going to be a very difficult tour and I am excited by that challenge. All of the guys are really excited about what’s to come in the next six weeks. It’s a great challenge to play here in India.
“We know that if we can pull something off and win a series here, we will look back in 10-20 years and it will be some of the best times of our lives. It’s a great occasion to play here in India.”
The Australia captain was confident he had the attack to trouble an Indian batting line-up spearheaded by an in-form home skipper Virat Kohli and his bowlers had worked on gameplans to succeed on slow, turning wickets.
”I am confident, I think we have got a good mix of bowlers,“ Smith said. ”It’s important here to make sure you are bowling consistent areas and letting the wicket do the work, and getting the natural variation out of the wickets.
”I think reverse-swing is going to be incredibly important in this series as well. Our two big quicks -- Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc -- are very good reverse-swing bowlers.
“They relish the challenge of playing against the best players in the world, and India have some incredibly good batters. So they are excited by the challenges of playing here as well.”
The world’s second-ranked team have had a training camp in Dubai to prepare for the tour and Australia will also play a three-day practice match against an India A side from Thursday, before they head to Pune for the opening test from Feb. 23.
Smith said he also needed to maintain a fine balance between attack and defence to find success in India.
“It’s about knowing the right periods and timing the periods right when to sort of take the foot off the pedal and to really go hard,” the 27-year-old said.
“I think I have learnt a little bit of that in Sri Lanka.”
Editing by John O'Brien