Melbourne: Australia captain Michael Clarke feels that without pace spearhead Zaheer Khan, the Indian bowling attack will be in great trouble during the four-match Test series that starts on Monday with the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Injury-prone Zaheer's fitness remains a concern for the first Test. The left-arm pacer is struggling to get back his rhythm after his ankle surgery earlier this year. His availability for the first Test is still subject to fitness.
"The Indians have struggled with a few injuries to their bowling attack, and they will need Zaheer Khan to be fit, otherwise there will be a lot of pressure on the other Indian bowlers," said Clarke.
The captain said that the summer will be all about the experience and class of India against the talent and energy of a young, exciting Australian team.
"It should make for a thrilling contest for the 75,000 people in the stands and the millions more watching around the world. The sheer weight of runs scored by the Indian top order over the years indicates that our bowling group is in for a tough challenge, but we are confident we've identified a few areas where we can have impact. There's also the issue of Sachin Tendulkar and his 100th international century, which has been a huge talking point in India and around the cricketing world," Clarke wrote in his column in The Herald Sun.
Talking about the Australian bowling, Clarke said Ben Hilfenhaus and Mitchell Starc will be fighting it out for the third fast bowler's spot, as they bring different skills to the table.
"Hilfy boasts experience, the ability to swing the ball and bowl long spells, while Mitchell is a tall left-armer who can be a real handful for opposing batsmen when he gets everything in sync," he said.
Clarke also said that all-rounder Dan Christian gives the team a lot of options.
"The option of using Dan Christian at No.6 is another interesting one for us. It's certainly handy having that extra bowling option as Shane Watson has shown us in recent years, although we have had success playing just the four specialists as well," he said.
Clarke also said that the team management is keeping a close eye on how opener Shaun Marsh, who is recovering from a back problem, pulls up from his Big Bash League game with the Perth Scorchers on Thursday.
He said that Big Bash is helping Australia's Test players to get some match practice ahead of the series against India.
"There has been plenty of discussion about the merits of Test squad members playing in the Big Bash between the New Zealand and Indian Test series. I think its been good for players to have some time in the middle and I've personally enjoyed watching the games on TV. Certainly the timing has been perfect in getting Shaun a game off the back of our batting camp," he said.