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Posted at: Dec 5, 2018, 1:45 AM; last updated: Dec 5, 2018, 1:45 AM (IST)

Australia are favourites: Rahane

India vice-captain says bowling and home conditions give Australia an edge
Australia are favourites: Rahane
In limelight: Cricket fans take pictures of Virat Kohli as he walks to the stadium. BCCI

Adelaide, December 4

Australia are still favourites to win the four-Test series against India even without Steve Smith and David Warner because of the strength of their bowling attack, Ajinkya Rahane said on Tuesday. Many pundits have tipped India to end their 70-year wait for a first Test series triumph in Australia after their top batsmen Smith and Warner were banned for a year in the aftermath of March's ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.

Rahane, however, was keen to throw the pressure of expectation back on the hosts when the much-anticipated series gets underway in Adelaide on Thursday, and scoffed when he was asked whether Australia would be ripe for the picking. "Not really," said the India vice-captain. "I feel that any team that plays at home, they feel really good, and I feel that Australia are still the favourites to win the series. We are not going to take them lightly at all. Yes, they (will) miss Steve Smith and David Warner but I don't think they are vulnerable.

"You see their bowling attack, they've got a really good bowling attack, and I think to win Test matches, you need to have a really good bowling attack. So I feel that Australia are really still the favourites," said Rahane.

Although not quite reaching the heights of captain Virat Kohli's 692 runs, Rahane had a good tour the last time India visited Australia in 2014-15 with 399 runs at an average of 57. India still lost the series 2-0, however, and the 30-year-old suggested the players had learned the importance of contributing to the team effort on that trip.

"When you do well as a team, you feel really good," he added.  "This is a team sport ... and it is the job of each and every bat to contribute. And I think it's important that we get those long partnerships together, in Australia that will really help us a lot." 

Rahane and Kohli did that in the Boxing Day Test on the last tour, putting together a fourth-wicket stand of 262 in India's first innings with scores of 147 and 169, respectively, while illustrating their different approaches to the game.

"Last time here, we really enjoyed batting together a lot, especially at the MCG," Rahane recalled. "Mitchell Johnson was really going after Virat and I was at the other end playing my game. Virat at the other end was really aggressive and going after bowlers. I was able to focus on my game, I still attacked but I was completely the opposite to Virat." —  Reuters 


Australia cricketer Khawaja's brother arrested over fake terror ‘hit list’

Adelaide: The brother of Australia Test cricketer Usman Khawaja was charged by police on Tuesday with framing a love rival for a "hit list" that sparked a major counterterrorism investigation. Arsalan Khawaja, 39, was released on bail after appearing in a Sydney court on charges of forgery and attempting to pervert justice. For months he appears to have convinced Australian police that his 26-year-old university colleague Mohamed Kamer Nizamdeen was embroiled in a plot to kill then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.   Sri Lanka-born PhD student Nizamdeen spent a month in solitary confinement at a remote high-security prison, where he was questioned about targets including not just Turnbull, but reportedly also the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House. He was eventually released in September, when police realised the script did not match his handwriting. The charges were later dropped. "What we will be alleging is that he (Nizamdeen) was set up in a planned and calculated manner. Motivated, in part, by a personal grievance," said New South Wales assistant commissioner Mick Willing. Willing said police believe Khawaja orchestrated the set-up and may have been motivated by a dispute over a woman. "We will allege that that is part of the process. But as you can appreciate, the matter is before the court, so we can't go into much detail," said Willing. Australian police now say they "regret" arresting and holding Nizamdeen, and have paid his court costs. Nizamdeen is seeking further damages from authorities and has since returned to Sri Lanka. — Reuters

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