Coach Ravi Shastri vowed Sunday India will “take no prisoners” in their quest to win a Test series in Australia for the first time, but cautioned against underestimating the struggling home team.
India play four Tests and three one-day internationals from early December, with three Twenty20s before that, starting in Brisbane on Wednesday.
Despite Australia’s form nosediving since the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in March resulted in bans for Steve Smith and David Warner, the former spin great doesn’t believe they have lost their aura.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “I always believe no team is weak at home.
“We might have three or four players not playing when a team comes to India but God forbid if anyone says it is a weak Indian team because you will be surprised.”
Shastri didn’t want to be drawn on Australia’s new “friendlier” approach to playing cricket under Justin Langer, which has seen them tone down the confrontational style that brought then so much success.
But he has instructed his team to play hard but fair.
“We will be taking no prisoners, but are focusing on our game rather than what is happening outside,” he said.
South Africa captain Faf du Plessis, who has fed off the Australian “in-your-face” attitude in recent years, urged them last week not to totally abandon this aspect of their game.
His Indian counterpart Virat Kohli is another who has thrived previously on the combative rivalry.
Shastri did not believe the hosts’ new, polite approach would affect his skipper.
“He won’t take his foot off the gas that is for sure,” he warned.
“He loves coming to Australia, he’s passionate about his game and the pitches here suit his style of play.”
While India have maintained home recent supremacy with a thrashing of the West Indies in Tests (2-0), ODIs (3-1) and T20s (3-0), they have not been as dominant away.
They lost 2-1 in Tests to South Africa and were then outplayed in England 4-1.
“It’s about seizing the moment. If you look at those Test matches (overseas), the scoreline doesn’t really tell you the whole story,” said Shastri.
“There were some very tight Test matches and we lost some big moments badly which cost us the series.
“It could have been just an hour in a session over four days which made all the difference — you have to learn from that.”