Sydney: Former Australian Test seamer Stuart Clark Tuesday said the decision to rest skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni from the first Test against Australia shows that India place greater emphasis on the 2015 World Cup rather than the upcoming series, both to be played Down Under.
India are scheduled to play four Tests, starting December 4 and then a One-day International (ODI) series also involving England in the build-up to the World Cup, beginning February 14. Clark does not think retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy is the top priority for India this summer.
Instead, they are more preoccupied with defending the World Cup they won in 2011, he believes. "I'd suggest India are very, very concerned about the World Cup," Clark was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald.
"That's a big thing in their cricket calendar, one-day cricket and the World Cup. The Test series is big but at the end of the day if they do well in the World Cup no one will care about the Test series over there."
Dhoni's absence from the series opener has frontline batsman Virat Kohli leading the side for the first time at a venue where the hosts haven't lost a Test for 26 years.
Dhoni has been rested to overcome a thumb injury that has sidelined him from the ongoing ODI series against Sri Lanka. Clark said India will struggle if they think they can exploit Australia's weaknesses against slow bowling Down Under.
And he does not believe off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin will be able to replicate his heroics of last year when he topped the series wicket-takers' list in India against the Aussies. "If India are going to come out and bowl spinners at us I think we'll come out and smash them everywhere," Clark said.