Adelaide, Feb 7:
Australia captain Michael Clarke has warned against writing off India’s chances to defend the World Cup despite their poor form in the build-up to cricket’s showpiece event.
India have endured a dismal show Down Under having failed to win a single competitive match in four Tests and a tri-series also involving England.
Clarke said the India are now well accustomed to the bouncy pitches in Australia and it will be foolish to discard them.
“Look, I think M.S. Dhoni and the Indian team have always been successful, especially under his leadership,” Clarke was quoted as saying by theaustralian.com.au Saturday.
“I think he’s done a fantastic job. He’s a wonderful player and he’s a matchwinner.”
Clarke pointed out India under Dhoni has lifted them for the big occasions and boasts game-breaking batsman in Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane.
“They’re a wonderful team. He’s a fantastic leader. They’ll see this as a brand new tournament. I think they’ll see it as a fresh start,” Clarke said of India’s attitude a week out from the tournament.
Clarke also identified India as one of the toughest teams to beat, which boasts of “extremely gifted players”.
“I have no doubt that India are going to be one of the toughest teams to beat, that’s for sure. They’ve got a couple of games to prepare. They’ve got some extremely gifted players. So I think their time in Australia actually playing in the conditions will actually help them.”
Clarke is likely to sit out the practice match against India here Sunday, but will play against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Melbourne Wednesday.
When asked if Australia’s pace attack would be the chief weapon in the tournament the skipper said he believes it is the team’s balance in all three forms of the game that will give them an edge.
“I think our strengths are all three facets of the game. I think our bowling is certainly talented and I think our batting has shown through this summer that we’re making important runs,” Clarke said of his side.
“And I’m always a believer in fielding being a massive part of having success in any format of the game.
So if we can make sure that we’re the best fielding team in the world in this tournament will go a long way towards success,” he added. IANS