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LKM Blogs
Optimism for the Australia Tour
By Lalit K. Modi - 9th December, 2011

Virender Sehwag's tremendous innings of 219 in 149 balls against the West Indies in Indore on Thursday has certainly highlighted India's excellent current form. The innings set a new record for the highest ever one-day score, breaking the record set by the great Sachin Tendulkar  and with only one more match to go in a series India lead 3-1, the forthcoming tour to Australia can be viewed with much more optimism than appeared possible just a few months ago.

Thoughts are now inevitably turning to the next leg of the seemingly never-ending round of fixtures and there's no let up in the intensity because there are only four days between the final One-Day International and the first tour match in Canberra next week. Such are the demands of modern day cricket. But I think recent events show there's every reason to hope that India will put up a far better show against Australia than they did on the tour to England earlier this year - and that's not just because they've done well at home in the current series.

People will, of course, point to the fact that India won the three Test series with the West Indies on home pitches they were far more used to than those in England and that is no doubt true. It’s a view that is certainly backed up by India's 5-0 ODI whitewash of England at home just a few weeks after their capitulation on English soil. But there does appear a freshness about the Indians now that wasn't apparent in England - and I reckon it will see them better prepared for Australia.

Of course, winning matches makes life easier and there's nothing better than positive performances to ease a few aches and pains but there is a feeling that Australian wickets will suit India's style this time round - a fact backed up by Aussie legend Adam Gilchrist who recently suggested the series could be tight: Gilchrist is fully aware of Indian pitches after a tremendous international career and not least because he starred for Deccan Chargers and King's X1 Punjab in the IPL. He said: "I think the last two tours when India came to Australia, batsmen had certainly dominated. The Indian batsmen especially have accommodated these conditions very very well. In 1999-2000, when I played first against India in Australia, the conditions were a bit more difficult for them. There was a lot of grass on the wicket and a lot of bounce. The general view is that wickets have tamed somewhat and the Indian players - they are world class players - will certainly find ways to score hundreds in those conditions. I wouldn't say there will be dead wickets but maybe not as spicy as it used to be in previous years."

If he's right, then the likes of Sehwag, VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid will obviously be important. The young bowling attack is now without Varun Aaron and they may have to toil a little, and with Harbhajan Singh absent, there is a chance for Ashwin and Ojha. But if they all fire, then India might just win their first ever Test series in Australia. 

Gilchrist believes that India will go to Australia with a more positive mindset than they have in the past. The conditions may be part of that, but some solid performances in the latter part of the year will certainly add to the confidence. Sending an advance party of players to extend preparation makes sense. The final ODI's in India make it impossible for the entire squad to be there early but the build up to Australia feels slightly more buoyant than it might have done two or three months ago.

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