Won't shy away from verbal battle against India, says Steve Smith

"If they want to get into a battle verbally, and that gets the best out of them then go for it". The good thing about this Australian team is that we have players who have played in Indian conditions. "Lot of times, you know that there is only so much that you can do as a captain", Kohli said in the post-match press conference.

For the ninth Test in a row at home this marathon season, India played on a pitch that didn't offer them any special benefits.

By contrast, the visiting Steve Smith's side were thrashed 3-0 in Sri Lanka and lost the first two Tests of a three-match home series against South Africa before wholesale changes led to a consolation win in Adelaide and the new charges went on to sweep aside Pakistan.

The national selection panel refrained from tinkering with the winning combination and finalised an unchanged squad for the first two of the four-Test series against Australia, starting from February 23 in Pune.

It seems very likely that India will retain the same XI as they fielded against Bangladesh, but they may consider adding an extra spinner in place of one of the three seamers who took on the Tigers.

In that situation, Shami is likely to replace chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav who was drafted into the squad for the Test against Bangladesh in place of leggie Amit Mishra who was chosen originally.

And Clarke warned successor Steve Smith the Indians would be keen to exert their dominance and inflict the sort of pain touring Indian sides have suffered on Australian shores for generations.

The skipper felt Bhuvneshwar's ability to bowl well with old ball has further enhanced the team's chances. "He's a world class player and has been batting very well". Looking at the anticipation, one be can be rest assured that this is likely going to be one hell of a four-match Test series.

"Definitely, I am not going to come out with it (plans) in the open", Smith said with a smile. "That will be the key to success but we know they have quality seamers as well".

Smith said his team prepared on some good wickets (in Dubai) and tried to find game plans that can work in Indian conditions and against the spinners.

"Natural swing with the brand new ball, and especially reserve swing, is going to be really important to the Australian team". There were lapses in the field when they were eight down.

Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has usurped Aussie great Dennis Lillee as the fastest man to take 250 Test wickets, reaching the milestone when he knocked over Mushfiqur Rahim during India's one-off Test against Bangladesh. But the first Test is very important because the venues for the third and fourth Test (Ranchi and Dharamsala) we are not sure of what will happen.

  • Loretta Pittman