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Ravichandran Ashwin ready for David Warner and Steve Smith

India Today logo India Today 17-02-2017
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Riding high on his success this home season with 55 wickets from eight matches in 2016, Ravichandran Ashwin is leaving no stone unturned in his preparation for the upcoming Test series against Australia starting February 23.

Ashwin is aware of the challenges that lie ahead during the four-match series but is hopeful that India will start the series on the right note and play to their strengths.

"England played some outstanding cricket and was a very smart team. Australia will be a different kettle of fish because they play an aggressive brand of cricket, play a lot more shots, bowl a lot more aggressively. I feel, as always, the start of the series is going to be the most important," Ashwin told the Times of India in a interview.

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Ashwin, who became the quickest to reach 250 Test wickets, picked up 72 wickets last year and has also started 2017 with a six-wicket match haul against Bangladesh.

The 'Bradman of bowling' though admits that Steve Smith and David Warner are "great batsmen" but he is ready to nullify the threat imposed by the Aussie duo.

"Yes, I had some duels with Warner and the world knows they are great batsmen. But as I said, the key to this series is how well we start off. More often than not, it's about wearing the opposition down and if you can start doing that from the beginning, it gets easier towards the end. I know that Smith and Warner will play in their free-spirited fashion and if we can curb their natural instinct and play to our strengths and make them play to the pace that we want them to, we will do a fine job," he said.

Australia do not have a good record in the sub-continent, especially in whites. The Smith-led side was razed 3-0 by Angelo Mathews-led Sri Lanka in July-August in 2016. They have not won a Test series in the sub-continent since beating Sri Lanka 1-0 in 2011. 

The last time Australia toured India in 2013, they were beaten left, right and centre. A series that saw Michael Clarke's men swept aside 4-0, was also marred by the infamous 'homework-gate' scandal. Then Australia coach Mickey Arthur had sacked four players for one Test following which he made an acrimonious exit and was replaced by Darren Lehmann.

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