Sydney: Australian stand-in skipper Shane Watson has said that there are no doubts about hosts India being the favourites for the 2016 World T20, besides adding that his side has its work cut out in the build-up to the March-April tournament.
The hosts surrendered the Sydney T20I by 7 wickets, thus losing the series 0-3.
"I think, no matter what, they would have always been the favourites," said Watson after the loss on Sunday.
"Obviously conditions are different in India and they have so many world class players, especially in the batting and spin-bowling point of view, which is very important in India. I think no matter how things panned out here, they were always going to be favourites. And the way they handled the pressure in the 2011 World Cup as well, they know how to play well at home in big tournaments. There's no surprise with them going in as favourites."
Riding on his maiden T20I hundred, Australia scored 197/5, but then the Indian batting came up trumps once again, even in face of a tall score.
"Look, I knew we had a very good score but I was certainly never ever over-confident because I knew how good the Indian batting is. They're world class players taking on our bowlers, who are a bit inexperienced. It's a really good learning curve for them to be able to play against such world class players. I knew all along that it was going to be tight," said Watson.
When asked if the fluffed stumping of Suresh Raina was the turning point, the skipper replied: "It probably worked out that way, but that's the way the game goes, there are so many turning points all around. It was just unfortunate. That was a challenging ball for the keeper as well. Suresh Raina, as I've seen plenty of times whether for India or in IPL, he certainly knows how to bat well and get his team home."
The series loss raises a lot of questions about Australia's preparations for the World T20 with less than six weeks to go. Most of their senior players were sent ahead with preparation for the New Zealand tour, with the series still in play, forcing the management to make as many as 11 changes in the last two games.
"I don't think there's a hell of a lot to worry about, and it's more just about solidifying our roles. About who's going to play bowling wise, and who's going to bowl power plays and in the middle overs. I think once they're able to get that right, which no doubt will happen before the South African tour, that will go a long way in helping us execute our roles. The more some of these guys play against world class players, someone like Andrew Tye, he's only going to get better. He's got great skills. We've got a lot to learn out of the last 3 games, but the important thing is to get the team sorted out," said a defiant Watson.
"The simple fact is that there's a one-day tournament starting on Wednesday in New Zealand, and that provides a lot of challenges to be able to manage guys' workloads. They've had a big summer, and they've come off just about non-stop cricket as well. It's also one of the reasons why I retired from Test cricket because it is non-stop. There's no doubt that it's unfortunate that because the series is so close, that guys have come in and out that what would have normally happened. The way the schedules work nowadays, it's nearly impossible to get your best team out every time you play. Until it's in the lead up to the T20 World Cup like the games in South Africa and the warm-up games," he added.
Last but not the least, the experienced all-rounder was asked about his preference to bat up the order, given his scintillating performance on the day, replicating his many IPL performances in the past.
"I certainly do enjoy opening the batting, there's no doubt about that. It has always suited my game and my mentality as well. But I have batted in all different slots in all different formats, and any chance that I get to play for cricket in Australia and in any format, I'm happy to bat anywhere. I'm absolutely loving being out there and at this point I'm very happy to bat anywhere. But I certainly do enjoy opening the batting. Probably because I'm most experienced batting there, probably the most success as well, he said.
When asked if the upcoming IPL auctions had any role in motivating him for the big innings, Watson replied jokingly, "There's an auction, is there?"
"It was good timing, no doubt. Knowing that the Rajasthan Royals unfortunately isn't playing for the next two years, which is extremely sad and disappointing. But it's worked out nicely in that regard," he signed off.