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We can win in Australia – Ganguly

Sourav Ganguly believes the absence of Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath could see India clinch their first ever Test series victory on Australian soil. Fresh from victory over Pakistan, India travel to Australia this week hoping to improve on their 2003/04 series draw.

“I think we are the two best sides in the world,” former India captain Ganguly told BBC World Service Sport.

“We did well in 2003 but without McGrath and Warne, I’m sure that will make a difference.”

Australia have played just one series since the retirement of McGrath and Warne – who boast 1,271 Test wickets between them – at the end of the Ashes series last January. Ricky Ponting’s side are currently well clear at the top of the ICC Test rankings, while India are one of four teams vying for second place.

Captained by Anil Kumble, India begin a three-day a warm-up match against Victoria in Melbourne on 20 December, with the first of four Tests starting in the same city on 26 December. Ganguly, currently India’s fifth-highest overall run-scorer in Tests, admitted a trip to Australia is the hardest tour in cricket but claimed India are full of hope.

“It will be a massive series in their backyard, they are a very strong team – probably the best in the world – so we will really have to raise our game if we are to compete,” he said.

Ganguly, who in the past year has make a remarkable return to international cricket after being dropped from the national team in early 2006, says spin bowling could prove crucial. While India have Kumble and Harbhajan Singh, Australia may have to look to one-day specialist Brad Hogg and first choice Stuart MacGill is recovering from wrist surgery.

“All good Test teams have good spinners and for Australia to lose Warne is going to make a difference,” Ganguly continued.

“For us, [pace bowler] Sree Santh will definitely be missed.

But at the same time we have two quality spin bowlers. And out of the four Test matches we are playing at three venues – Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide – which spin.”

“Definitely if we can put runs up on the board that will be the key and put us in a position to get them out.”

While denying that Australia “fear” India, Ganguly insisted the home team will know they face a tough challenge.

“I spoke to some of the other players when they were in India, and they feel we are the only team which competes with them,” he said.

“They have probably beaten most other teams quite easily, apart from the Ashes in 2005, so it is for this reason it will be a tightly-contested series.

“We just want to do well in the four Test matches and take one match at a time.

“Obviously if we can win the series, that will be fantastic. But we know we will have to play really well to do it.

“It’s not impossible.”

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