The Australians quietly checked into the city and got straight down to business without indulging in any banter. Perhaps talking tough and mentally disintegrating opponents was easier when players like Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist, Steve Waugh, Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting were around.
Maybe this Australian side, led by George Bailey - in the absence of skipper Michael Clarke, who is nursing a back injury - is taking the safe and sensible route rather than being provocative in the build-up to the series.
Regardless, as India and Australia gear themselves up for a series of seven ODIs and a one-off T20 at Rajkot on October 10, the feeling one gets is of this being a friendly affair rather than two teams competing for number one spot in the ODI rankings.
“We are polite,” smiles Bailey. “We have got enough challenges and certainly don’t probably have the superstars like Warne or McGrath,” the 31-year-old adds, insisting that they would rather prefer that “bat and ball do the talking.”
It’s a young squad, largely comprising faces so unknown that a couple of curious onlookers watching their practice session from the sidelines concluded that Australia had sent a junior side. Even coach Steve Rixon, who is standing in for Darren Lehmann, goes unnoticed at times. Not that it bothers them, though. “If we are going to play good one-day cricket, if we win this series, we will need all 13 or 14 of us to play really well,” Bailey says.
Though not the favourites, Australia will take a lot of inspiration from their record in the subcontinent. Though they lost a rain-affected three-match series 1-0 in 2010 after two games were washed out, they had won the previous two ODI series 4-2 and 4-2, which will serve as a reminder of the reputation they have to protect. Back then, Ponting gloated about his team’s ‘greatest strength’ - their squad depth.
Bailey isn’t able to brag about bench strength like his former captain. But he will at least take heart from the fact that his boys do not endure sleepless nights anymore over the prospect of playing in the subcontinent, at least in the shorter formats, thanks to the IPL.
Rixon, who himself is the fielding coach of Chennai Super Kings, says it’s an advantage to know, in depth, how the likes of Dhoni, Ashwin and Raina play. “But we have plenty of hard