I predict 3-1 in favour of India but Nathan Lyon could trouble Virat Kohli and Co: Ashely Mallett

Updated: Nov 14, 2018, 10:29 IST | Clayton Murzello

Adelaide-based former Australia offie Ashley Mallett reckons India will win Border-Gavaskar Trophy 3-1 Down Under, but says Virat Kohli & Co must...

I predict 3-1 in favour of India but Nathan Lyon could trouble Virat Kohli and Co: Ashely Mallett
Nathan Lyon during the recent series v Pakistan. Pic/Getty Images

For the first time in their 71-year-old rivalry, India are expected to steamroll Australia in Kangarooland. The home team are bereft of genuine talent and experience in the batting department and India's wily pace attack along with spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will be licking their lips in anticipation. Kuldeep Yadav could be in the mix as well.

However, stranger things have happened in cricket and who knows, the Border-Gavaskar Trophy will not be claimed as easily as the pundits reckon. Former Australia off-spinner Ashley Mallett knows a thing or two about underdogs surprising formidable opponents.

Though he reckons India will win the four-Test series 3-1, they could find off-spinner Nathan Lyon a tough customer. Mallett was part of Ian Chappell's 1972 bunch in England, where the Australians were rated as one of the worst teams to land on their shores. But the series ended 2-2. Apart from the fact that the Indian batsmen have succumbed to spin overseas, the classic case being England's Moeen Ali on the 2014 and 2018 tours, Mallett believes Lyon can be a threat, "because very few batsmen use their feet."

Ashley Mallett
Ashley Mallett

Mallett told mid-day from Adelaide: "Look, it's not that Lyon will bowl to an Indian line-up that includes VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar. Those batsmen used their feet and thus changed the length. No one tries to change the length — not just India, all the teams' batsmen." Lyon, it can be recalled, claimed 12 wickets in the opening Test of the 2014-15 series in Adelaide, where India lost by 48 runs and stand-in captain Virat Kohli's second hundred of the Test went in vain.

Surprisingly, the India playing XI did not have Ashwin since leg-break bowler Karn Sharma was included. "If Lyon spins it on a good length, he will pose problems. He's a real class bowler now," Mallett said of Australia's most successful spin bowler (318 wickets in 80 Tests) after Shane Warne, who ended his career with 708 scalps. Mallett wants Lyon to keep it simple against the Indians. "He can just bowl the way he does — hit the right spot and get wickets. He will be successful because batsmen don't use their feet well," said Mallett who claimed 28 wickets on the 1969-70 tour of India, thus contributing to Australia's 3-1 series win over MAK Pataudi's team.

Mallett unplugged

'India's Test thrust is welcome'
India have come a long way in Test cricket and that is good to see. Previously, it was all (emphasis) one one-day cricket and Twenty20s. I think world cricket should have only two forms — Test cricket of course and Twenty20. The ODI form is just boring.

'Oz batting, a serious problem'
It's going to be a great series. Australia are obviously struggling at the moment without Steven Smith and David Warner, but I am hoping for a turnaround. India are
top-class. We have a good bowling attack, but batting is a serious problem.

'No domestic heroics'
One of the problems is that Australia have picked guys who are only averaging 30-odd in Sheffield Shield cricket. They haven't really done a good job at first-class level.

'Finch and not Paine should lead'
I don't think Tim Paine should be leading Australia. He's a good wicketkeeper, but he was a caretaker captain. I think Aaron Finch, who led Australia recently in the limited overs series, should captain the side. He looks to be a good leader.

'Aus must pick Glenn Maxwell'
They should pick Glenn Maxwell for the Tests. He's a wonderful talent and he's been hard done by. Trying to sort out the batting is going to be a real problem. I don't think Mitch Marsh is good enough. He can't play spin to save his life. His brother (Shaun) is much better.

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