Key trio ... Australian bowlers Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins an Mitch Starc.
Key trio ... Australian bowlers Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins an Mitch Starc. SUPPLIED

Hussey: 'Awesome' pace battery to spark Australia

FOR the man known as 'Mr Cricket', it is the most mouthwatering of contests.

The most destructive batting line-up against the most dangerous bowling attack.

On the international cricket stage, it doesn't get any better than this.

Fronted by skipper Virat Kohli, India has arrived with their best chance of recording a first ever Test series win in Australia.

But, standing in their way, are what Test great Mike Hussey believes is a pace battery set to spark Australia, and he is backing the hosts to win a "really tight" series.

Hussey, now commentating for Fox Cricket, acknowledges Kohli is "the best batsman in the world ... without doubt".

But, in Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, Australia has an "awesome, awesome attack".

"That's what I'm looking forward to the most ... the battle with Kohli," Hussey said ahead of the start of the first Test in Adelaide today.

Only Starc played in the UAE against Pakistan recently, but the pace trio had combined to hold their own during the diabolical tour of South Africa.

It was in Australia last summer, however, when the bowling line-up demonstrated what it was capable of when at full strength.

Cummins (23 scalps at an average of 24), Starc (22 at 23) and Hazlewood (21 at 25) dominated the visiting English. And Hussey says they have the ability to get on top of India.

"They're starting to play a lot more together," he said.

"You really feel like they're a team within a team. They all play for NSW. If you've got guys who know each other inside and out, trust each other, know their roles, feel comfortable around each other, then you can build something special.

"And I think they are still building. They still aren't as good as they can be. They will only get better the more they play together."

In the tradition of the powerful Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie attack, Hussey says Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins "complement each other so well".

 

Josh Hazlewood during a training session at the Adelaide Oval.
Josh Hazlewood during a training session at the Adelaide Oval. DAVID MARIUZ

"They are all different," he said.

"I love Josh Hazlewood, probably the pick for me. He's relentless with his line and length ... the old Glenn McGrath style. You know what you're going to get day in, day out.

"Starc has got that x-factor. He can swing the new ball, get late reverse swing going. Cummins is a bit of both. He can do the donkey work. He can also come in and have an impact with pace."

Now the most successful off-spinner in Australia Test cricket history, Nathan Lyon completes a formidable bowling quartet.

He claimed 21 scalps in the Ashes last summer but may find the going a little tougher this time around.

"Indians are traditionally very good players of spin," Hussey said.

"He will have to work a lot harder for his wickets this year."

Hussey expects, as always, the Aussie wickets will aid the hosts.

"In the past our conditions were so different at every single ground, the opposition teams had to adapt to new conditions every single place they went to," he said.

"I feel now, with the drop-in pitches around the country, we've lost a bit of that.

"But it's still challenging because the pitches are a lot faster and bouncier than anything they play on around the world, particularly in India."

 

READY FOR BATTLE: Captains Virat Kohli and Tim Paine hold the Border-Gavaskar trophy at Adelaide Oval yesterday.
READY FOR BATTLE: Captains Virat Kohli and Tim Paine hold the Border-Gavaskar trophy at Adelaide Oval yesterday. Sarah Reed

Hussey doesn't subscribe to the theory the Aussies need to resort to sledging the tourists, who have recorded just five Test match wins Down Under from 44 games.

"There's so much pressure anyway," he said. "You can't imagine how big a rock stars these players are back home.

"They literally can not leave a hotel without getting mobbed by thousands of people.

"Every time they step on to a cricket field there's a billion sets of eyes on them.

"I don't think the Aussies need to revert to that nasty stuff.

"They have a fantastic attack as it is. Try to beat them with skill rather than try and get under their skin.

"Of course, once you cross that white line, you have to be competitive, things get emotional out there. It's just the nature of sport .

"But certainly as a tactic going in, I don't think the Aussies need to worry about that sort of stuff."

India are the No.1 ranked Test team in the world, coming off a competitive series defeat in England. Australia, meanwhile, are fifth following a scandalous year.

Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft are still serving suspensions for their parts in the ball-tampering scandal with Tim Paine to lead the side.

Marcus Harris is set to make a deserved debut, opening with Aaron Finch, with Shaun Marsh the unlikely anchor in the middle order.

"He's a had a disappointing few Tests away from home but he genuinely pays well in Australian conditions," Hussey said of Marsh.

"He's been piling on the runs for WA. He deserves to be in there.

"He needs runs, like all the guys, but I think he's a key player for Australia with that experience."

Hussey tips Australia to win 2-1.

"It's been quite a tumultuous period for cricket," he said.

"Hopefully, all the worst is behind us and we can really just focus on the cricket."

 

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