Steve unleashes the mongrel!

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AAP 15.02.17 ’Australia cricket captain Steve Smith happy to turn up heat ahead of three-day fixture against India A’

India haven’t lost at home in their past 20 Tests and Australia’s subcontinental form is woeful, but Steve Smith has endorsed a feisty approach from his side just over a week out from the series opener in Pune.

Following a training camp in Dubai to prepare for the four-Test series, the Australian captain was in an upbeat mood looking ahead to the next six weeks against the No.1-ranked and well-balanced India at home.

It’s easily the toughest tour in international cricket.

Virat Kohli and Ravi Ashwin are in freakish form.

And it comes only six months after Australia were humiliated 3-0 in Sri Lanka, their third straight whitewash loss in Asia after a 2-0 defeat to Pakistan in the UAE in 2014 and a 4-0 drubbing in India a year earlier.

But Smith was far from undeterred when speaking in Mumbai, where Australia play their only warm-up game – a three-day fixture against India A starting on Thursday.

He’s not going to stop his players taking it to Kohli’s side – who have recorded 17 wins and three draws in their last 20 Test matches at home – if that’s what they believe might give them an edge in the hot, dry and draining conditions.

“If they (individuals) want to get into a battle verbally, and that gets the best out of them then go for it,” said Smith. …

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Scyld Berry, 16.02.17 ’New skipper Joe Root promises England team will play entertaining Test cricket’

It was not what Joe Root said that was so impressive when he was enthroned as England’s new Test captain on a grey afternoon at Headingley, but the clarity with which he said it.

Clarity of diction stems from clarity of vision and thought. Alastair Cook was always diplomatic, and even statesmanlike when talking about issues affecting the global game, such as the return of Pakistan’s banned bowler Mohammad Amir. But he never fully articulated a vision of how England should play, the pragmatism petering out into what Cook himself called stagnation.

Root, on the other hand, was highly articulate during one-and-a-half hours of interviews, while England and Wales Cricket Board apparatchiks watched on to make sure their new leader has a safe pair of hands. …All the best England captains have had this clarity. …

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