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India have a chance in Australia even with Smith, Warner back - Pujara

Cricket - England v India - Fourth Test - Ageas Bowl, West End, Britain - August 31, 2018 India's Cheteshwar Pujara in action Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs/Files

(Reuters) - India are capable of repeating their heroics from their successful 2018-19 test tour in Australia even though the hosts are stronger this time with the return of batsmen David Warner and Steve Smith, India’s Cheteshwar Pujara has said.

Both Warner and Smith were unavailable for Australia while serving 12-month ball-tampering bans as India won their first test series Down Under, beating the hosts 2-1 in four matches.

Warner and Smith have scored over 14,000 test runs between them but Pujara said India’s bowlers are capable of taking quick wickets to give them “every chance of winning” the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

“(Australia’s batting lineup) will be a little stronger than what it was in 2018-19, but then victories don’t come easy,” Pujara told PTI.

“No doubt Smith, Warner and Marnus Labuschagne are great players. But the good part about our current crop of bowlers is that most of them play in the same series and our bowling unit will also not be very different to what it was in 2018-19.

“They know how to be successful in Australia as they have enjoyed success there in the past. They have their gameplans in place and if we can execute them well, they are capable of getting Smith, Warner and Labuschagne out quickly.”

Pujara said they will however encounter a “different challenge” in the series opener in Adelaide when India play their second day-night test with the pink ball, having played with it just once against Bangladesh on home soil.

“We will be playing with the pink Kookaburra in Australia, it will be slightly different,” Pujara, the series’ leading run scorer on their last visit, added.

“One has to understand and accept and get used to it (pink ball and lights) as early as possible ... The twilight period is more challenging than other periods.”

Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Stephen Coates

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