“It [the Australian batting line-up] will be a little stronger than what it was in 2018-19 but then victories don’t come easy. If you want to win away from home, you need to work hard,” Pujara said.
The Indians have a formidable attack, led by fast bowlers Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav, while back-up Navdeep Saini may be uncapped but can hit speeds of more than 145km/h. Veteran spinner Ravi Ashwin will also have an important role to play.
“No doubt Smith, Warner and Marnus Labuschagne are great players. But the good part about our current crop of bowlers is that most of them play in the same series, and our bowling unit will also not be very different to what it was in 2018-19. They know how to be successful in Australia as they have enjoyed success there in the past. They have their game-plans in place and if we can execute them well, they are capable of getting Smith, Warner and Labuschagne out quickly.
“If we can do what we have done in the past, I am sure we have every chance of winning the series again.”
Despite Pujara’s confidence, India’s “past” against Smith does not provide much cause for optimism among the tourists. He averages a formidable 84.05 in 10 Tests with seven centuries between the nations. That included a stunning average of 128.16 with four tons in his last series on Australian soil against India, in 2014-15.
Warner has a modest average of 36.03 although he has four centuries in 16 Tests against India. However, he averaged 53.37 with three tons in the ’14-15 campaign.
Labuschagne scored 38 in his only innings two years ago but has since morphed into a potential great of the game.
The need to choke Australia’s top order this time may even be greater because the tourists will have Virat Kohli, their own batting master, for only the opening Test before he leaves for the birth of his first child.
The Indian bowlers will need to adjust to using a pink Kookaburra ball for the first time as the Adelaide Test will be their first under lights outside of India. They use the SG ball at home. The heavily lacquered Australian ball could aid their swing bowlers but will also pose a challenge for their batsmen, particularly at twilight.
“It will be a different challenge altogether playing with the pink ball as the pace and bounce also change,” Pujara told the Press Trust of India.
“We will be playing with the pink Kookaburra. It will be slightly different. As a team and as individuals, one has to understand and accept and get used to it [pink ball and lights] as early [as] possible. There will be a bit of difference with the pink ball. The twilight period is more challenging than other periods, but as you play more and practise more, you get used to it. It does take a little while.”
The tourists are quarantining in Sydney and open their campaign with a one-day international against Australia on November 27.
Jon Pierik is cricket writer for The Age. He also covers AFL and has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.