India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin believes that Australia remain favourites for the upcoming four-match Test series.
With Australia entering the series on the back of a lean run of form across all formats, and without their two best batsmen in Steve Smith and David Warner, much is expected from an India side ranked No. 1 in the MRF Tyres ICC Test Team Rankings.
Nevertheless, speaking to reporters after the third day of India’s warm-up match against a Cricket Australia XI at the SCG, Ashwin played down expectations of Indian domination.
“It’s never easy to come over to Australia and win a series here. It’s right up Australia’s alley to win a series," said Ashwin. “As far as I’m concerned, they are starting as favourites. It’s very important for us to chip away every single day and every single ball and try and make sure that if we get our noses ahead, stay ahead.”
With Ashwin in their side, India boast a spinner with 336 Test wickets to his name, fourth in his country’s all-time wicket-taking list. While he shares a "mutual admiration" with his Australian counterpart Nathan Lyon, and has kept a keen eye on the spinner's recent progress, Ashwin is ready to back his own strengths.
"We both started our Test careers at the same time so obviously mutual admiration is there. I think he's done really well over the last couple of years and he's bowling really well, the ball's coming out really well. What can I learn [from Lyon]? Probably just drop the ball in the right spots and probably as the series goes on look forward to a good competition.
"It's going to be very hard to replicate one's action. We are talking about actions and biomechanics here, and it's quite silly when people say, oh, it's over-spin and side-spin and stuff like that. You've got to still stick to your strengths. You're not going to ask Ishant Sharma to bowl like Philander, can you? It's not going to happen.”
JUST IN: India opener Prithvi Shaw has been ruled out of the first #AUSvIND Test after suffering a lateral ligament injury in his left ankle.— ICC (@ICC) November 30, 2018
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Despite a mightily impressive career record, Ashwin has struggled to match his success in home conditions in Australia, with his 21 wickets in six Tests coming at an average of 54.71. Nevertheless, he insists that he is ready to tackle the conditions head on.
"You don’t turn up on a flight to Australia thinking the wicket is going to spin or seam around - it’s always going to be flat so we know that’s how it’s going to be. We’re not going to complain."
The first Test begins on 6 December in Adelaide.