New Delhi, Feb 6 (IANS): Former India head coach Ravi Shastri said he wants to see the ball turning from the first day of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series, adding that the hosts need to capitalise on the home advantage.
"I want the ball to turn from Day one! If you lose the toss, so be it. You want to see the ball turning a bit. Or something there for the bowlers on offer from Day one. It's your strength. You're playing at home. Capitalise on it," he said in a press conference organised by Star Sports, the official broadcaster of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
India are the current holder of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, having won the last three series against Australia in 2017, 2018-19 and 2020-21. Australia, on the other hand, are aiming to win a Test series in India after having done so last time in 2004.
A couple of days ago, Australia's wicket-keeping legend Ian Healy had said the visitors' will have an advantage if pitches for the four-match series are not 'unfair' ones. But his compatriot, former captain Ian Chappell, didn't agree with his views.
"What Ian Healy said that Australia will have the advantage, a lot of that is based on what Australia has done at home. They're not playing at home. They're playing in India. Why anybody would think that India don't start with an advantage, I don't know."
"There's a lot of crap spoken about pitches. I believe no one other than the curator should have a say on what wickets are produced. I don't think it should be up to the players, the manager, the coach, or anybody! You just produce a good pitch. Surely a curator has been a player and wants to produce a good pitch," he stated.
Shastri, meanwhile, believes Australia will be itching for the series to begin quickly to get a series victory in India. "They would be hoping for Test matches to start as they want to reverse that scoreline. It's not going to be easy as they are playing in India. Just as Australia does to sides when they tour there, India does to sides who tour here. Australia will really have to be on top of their game if they have to threaten India."
Asked if the India-Australia clash is the greatest rivalry in modern-day sport, Shastri replied in the affirmative. "No question about it. It's not just the cricket on the field. The buzz that an India-Australia series creates is second to none actually in world cricket. India is one of the teams that has really competed against Australia. That's what has got everybody to watch the series and anticipation happens a lot."
"More than anything else, credit must be given to the Indian players for making that happen. Australia always had a reputation: for playing in a certain fashion and dismantling sides. For India to step up and play them at their own game speaks volumes for the way the Indian players have performed over the last few years."
In the last few years, India have also won the coveted series in Australia - 2018/19 and 2020/21 by an identical margin of 2-1. Shastri signed off by saying the quest to take 20 wickets quicker than Australia helped India emerge victorious.
"What changed was very simple -- we went to Australia to beat them. That's what changed instead of filling in for the numbers. You went there with no excuses whatsoever when it came to the conditions, and the pitches we played on. Very early in that series, I had said we're going to take the pitch out of the equation."
"This thing about playing at home and playing overseas, to hell with that. You're playing cricket on a 22-yard strip which is the same for both sides. Our endeavor was to take 20 wickets before they could take 20 wickets. And we did that."