Thursday, October 29, 2009

"India are favourites to win series"

Former skipper Allan Border says rankings do not give Australia any advantage in Indian conditions.

When a former Australian captain is in Delhi 48 hours before the third one-day International at Feroz Shah Kotla, how can cricket be far behind? Spanked by 99 runs in the second ODI in Nagpur Wednesday night -- it could easily have been more - Allan Border was at the end of a fierce media query at a function in the capital on Thursday evening.

Border is in Delhi as the brand ambassador of the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon. Even at 54, one of Australia's most successful captain, says he is all geared up to "run 21 kilometres" of the fledgling marathon event.

"I think I will have to take part in the race for the elderly," Border quipped before continuing, "I have run this half marathon event before, in 1995 back home in Australia. I took double the time of the athletes."

"Yes, it's been a long time but I have been preparing for this event for some time now. I am not an active cricket player any more, did play some beach cricket recently but for exercise and keeping fit, nothing is as good as jogging," Border said.
Running may be Border's new fancy but as they say, you can take a player out of cricket but never take cricket out of him.

"Playing beach cricket with my old buddies, Dean Jones, Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson keep me with the game. I have my sons, 25-year-old Dean and 13-year-old Lochland who have taken up this game, so I want to be fit enough to feature in a match where all three of us will be playing."

From marathon to cricket. Will the seven-match series between India and Australia identify the number one side in the world?
Says Border, "I don't really get the ranking system and how it works. Australia have won five major ICC tournaments in-a-row and they should be given more weight than any bilateral series.

"Having said that, India play fantastic cricket and under MS Dhoni, they are very aggressive and have the right attitude a team needs to have for winning. I rate Dhoni very highly alongwith some of the other attacking batsmen they have got, Suresh Raina, Gautam Gambhir and my favourite, Yuvraj Singh."

"India are going to be favorites in this series because they are playing at home and can use the conditions to their advantage. Just like Nagpur, when they put a 350-plus target, they batted Australia out. As much as I would like my country to win, I think India will come out on top.

"But having said that, Ricky Ponting has built a fantastic side after losing some great players and no one should take his team lightly. I think we can replace all but Shane Warne for he did a tremendous job for our country. Nathan Hauritz is playing the ODIs well but he still has a thing or two to learn about Test cricket," said Border.

And as for the competition between Sachin Tendulkar and Ponting, both of whom have gone past his run-mark in Tests?
"Oh, both are fantastic batsmen, and will have gone miles past my record by the time they finish. Sachin is an icon having lasted 20 years in the game. That sort of longevity is an inspiration to all around him. He is nearing 14000 runs in Tests so I am not sure where Ponting will reach.

"Before the Ashes, we thought he was ready to hang up his boots in another couple of years but now he is eyeing another Ashes tour, so who knows. But beating Sachin's tally wherever Ponting finishes, is not going to be easy at all," said Border.

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