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Tim Paine excited for "bit like the Ashes" India-Australia Test clash starting November

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If experts are to be believed, the Covid-19 pandemic will peak by June and will then start to recede. In that case, there should not be a cloud of uncertainty over the T20 World Cup and India's Test tour of Australia that immediately follows it.

India's last Test tour of Australia was throughly entertaining. India registered their first Test series win Down Under by 2-1. Had rain not played spoil sport in Sydney, the margin would have been 3-1.

However, many argue that the picture would have been different had David Warner and Steve Smith been available. To the uninitiated, the two were serving a one-year ban for their involvement in the ball-tampering saga and could only return by the time of the ODI World Cup. Mitchell Starc, one of Australia's best pacers of all-time, was also far from his best.

Australian Test skipper Tim Paine has talked about the role that Smith and Warner would play in the Test clash. Marnus Labuschagne having come of age in the last Ashes and the Australian summer will also make the Australian batting line-up tough to dislodge.

"I think you put in 15,000 Test runs with two guys alone, Steve Smith and David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne's come on in leaps and bounds and he's now a top three or four batsman in the world himself. You put that amount of runs into a cricket side, last time we didn't have ... we know how good India's bowling line-up is and last time we just weren't quite good enough if we're totally honest against that attack, whereas this time I think we'll be a different kettle of fish. We've got three of the best batsmen in the world in our top six."

Paine talked up the rivalry between India and Australia, comparing it with the hallowed Ashes. The skipper said that the series will not be about "revenge" or "getting one back on them" but the battle between two "high-quality sides".

"We play Test cricket to win and every Test match now counts to that end goal we're driving to which is the Test Championship final. So, points are really important, Test matches are more important than they've ever been. So, it's not so much about looking back and trying to get them back for what happened last time," Paine said during a video-webinar from his home in Hobart.

"This is a different team, no doubt their team will be slightly different as well, but it's two high quality teams, a really anticipated series purely because of the quality of cricket, not for what's happened before. India and Australia as a rivalry, it's a series a bit like the Ashes that we all look forward to," he added.

The Indian bowling, particularly the pace battery, wreaked havoc on their last tour of Australia with each one of Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami troubling the Aussie batsmen. However, Paine believes that with a few personnel changing and others gaining experience, it will not be an easy task for the Indian pacers to repeat their feat.

"Matthew Wade back firing adds a real toughness to it, Travis Head improved a lot since he played India last time. So I think it's going to be an exciting series, there's no doubt about it. The batting line-ups that are going to be on show are going to be as good as you will see, so it's going to be exciting for fans and I think it's going to be who handles (the pressure), we know the conditions over here are going to offer the quicks something and I think it's going to be awesome to watch, so I can't wait to play in it," he said.

Before the Test series against India, Australia were also scheduled to travel to Bangladesh for a two-Test affair from June 11 to June 23, but that looks a far shot now.

©Cricket World 2020


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