Melbourne: Veteran Australian pacer Brett Lee believes India have lost the mental edge this summer and his team would look to take full advantage of the tourists’ slump by preventing them from getting on board in any format.
India were blanked 0-4 in Tests and have also lost the first of the two Twenty20s as well. Lee said given the seemingly low morale of the visitors, the Aussies would continue to come hard at them.
“I do think the momentum does get carry through, the mental edge as well. The way the Test players played, which is why it’s so important for us to try and win, so come Sunday night, even though we are not playing against India, we get a great roll on from Twenty20 into one-day matches,” said Lee ahead of second Twenty20 international at the MCG on Friday.
“Everyone wants a clean sweep. We want to make sure India doesn’t go on board this Australian summer,” said Lee, who started the rot in Indian innings in Sydney the other night by claiming a wretched Virender Sehwag in his very first over.
Ominously, Lee opined his Twenty20 side wasn’t perfect in Sydney.
“We didn’t play the perfect game the other night. There were a few things which were scratchy, I think due to weather and the circumstances.”
Lee, who has retired from Test cricket after picking up 310 wickets from 76 matches at 30.81 average, is now a force to reckon with in ODIs and T20s having claimed 357 and 23 wickets at averages of 22.89 and 27.69 respectively.
Lee said the hosts’ Twenty20 side is still finding its feet in international arena.
“It was a great win for us. A chance for us to find ourselves as a team as well. There are heaps and heaps of new guys at the same place, at the same time.”
Australia have made a clear distinction between Test and Twenty20 sides. There is only David Warner from the Test arena who is featuring in a Twenty20 XI. India, on the other hand, had six players from the Test squad in the first Twenty20 game.
“I don’t believe you need to have three different teams for three different formats of the game. If the 12 Test players are all good enough to play Twenty20 cricket, well then choose them! What we have seen in the last few years is that there are specifically guys we’ve got for Twenty20 cricket,” he said.
Lee also gave a positive spin to continuing calls for the retirement of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman from the Indian team.
“When you have a guy like Sachin Tendulkar, I would have him in my team every single day to what he could offer to the players, what he brings to the crowd. His stature is phenomenal. So him and Dravid, it obviously comes down to when they feel it’s time to move on.”
“We have seen Sachin Tendulkar score 70s in this series so he is still in good form. People expect him to score 100s but he is still averaging in 50s.”
Lee believed India would be desperate to turn things around and arrest the continuous downward slide of the team.
“When you lose 4-0 as India has, it obviously is devastating. They would want to try and take energy out of this Twenty20 matches to make sure they can somehow get on the board. Everyone of us would try to stop it obviously.”
While everyone is criticising the Indians, Lee argued credit must also be given to the Australians for keeping the visitors under the pump.
“India have not played their best cricket but Australian bowlers have bowled very well too. We had guys who have made big hundreds too, like 300 by Michael Clarke and 200 by Ricky Ponting.”
“It wasn’t as if India played their worst cricket and were totally done in. I think Australia made very good effort, planned extremely well,” Lee said.
George Bailey as a rookie T20 captain and a side predominantly spin-oriented which Australia fielded in Sydney the other night, is still being debated upon in cricket circles.
“George (Bailey) was very good. Look, you have to start somewhere. There’s a lot said about him playing his first match as captain but everyone has to make debut at some stage.”
“I was very pleased by the way he captained. Once the first ball is bowled, he’s in charge. We try and back him up. As for only fast bowler (in the Sydney game), well James Faulkner also bowls in mid 140s. He is a classy paceman as well.”
“It actually depends on what surface you’re playing on. It depends on the conditions which are thrown at you,” Lee said.
It didn’t escape the affable pacer to praise the role of coach Mickey Arthur in Australia’s revival.
“He has done a good job as coach. He’s made sure the guys were in the right frame of mind. Arthur’s knowledge is second to none, he is a respected coach around the world, he’s done a great job. He actually is working to push us to the next level.”
“I love playing in India. Obviously, it’s a very close to my heart, travelling to India, but we would make sure we go out tonight and play as hard as we possibly can.”