New Delhi: Australian opener David Warner believes that England's landmark 2-1 Test series victory last year has paved the way for touring teams to beat India in India, and that emulating the way Alastair Cook batted in tough conditions is the way to go about doing so.
"England played brilliant cricket right through the Test series. I must single out Cook for special praise. He has struggled against quality spin in the past but proved that with hard work and determination you can surely conquer the odds in India," he told the Times of India. "He played the ball late and was the architect of England's victory. We are looking to emulate what the English did and feel confident that India are no longer unbeatable at home. We have played very well on turners in Australia in recent times and it is time now to do the same on turners in India. I'm confident we have the skills to do so in this team."
Visiting teams have been faced with humid conditions, slow-turning tracks and vociferous crowds in India but Warner felt that Australia's cricketers were mentally game for the difficulties of playing in the subcontinent. "It is 100% mental. We definitely have the skill but it is important to be switched on mentally right through the four Test matches when you are playing in India," he said. "Take Chennai, for example. The heat in the post-tea session, coupled with the humidity, makes it very difficult to remain focused. And when you have two world-class spinners in [Ravichandran] Ashwin and [Pragyan] Ojha bowling in tandem in such weather it is a very difficult challenge for an overseas batsman. That's what we are looking to do: conquer adverse conditions and win the series."
This will be Australia's first overseas trip in the post-Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey-era, and critics have questioned the ability of the less-experienced batsman in coping away from home. Warner and fellow opener Ed Cowan have yet to play Test cricket in Asia while Shane Watson is not guaranteed a spot following Michael Clarke's assessment of the injury-plagued allrounder. Warner, however, deflected any such worries by putting faith in the ability of the team.
"Every player in the team has a designated responsibility and each of us will try and play our roles to perfection," he said. "When India toured Australia last year we were often two down in the first few overs with nothing on the board, and that put a lot of pressure on the middle order. It is on me, Ed and Watto to ensure we give the team a solid start and allow the middle order led by Pup [Clarke] to play freely. That's the most important thing as far as I am concerned."
England's success in India recently was due largely to how well Cook, Kevin Pietersen and Matt Prior batted in spin-friendly conditions, which the hosts had specifically asked for in an attempt to outdo the opposition. Aware that India could easily dole out rank turners during the upcoming series, Warner said attack was the way to tackle the slow bowlers.
"From my perspective I'll look to attack the Indians in the first 20 or so overs of the innings. I will try and be positive and play my shots. Being positive, rather than trying to play out a particular bowler or try and defend against spinners, has always worked for me. If we can get off to a quick start it will automatically force the Indians on the back foot. At Perth last year that's what I did to Ishant [Sharma], Umesh [Yadav[ and the others. I'll look to do the same in India."
Warner was named in Australia's Test squad for the four-match series starting February 22 and though nursing a fractured finger, was confident of opening the batting for the tourists in the first Test in Chennai.
"I am already feeling much better and it is only a matter of time before I start playing again. I am reasonably certain I'll be ready for the Chennai Test," said Warner.
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