‘It's become harder and harder for visiting teams to go to India’
Australia will struggle on their tour of India where they will play four Tests against the world's top-ranked side in spin-friendly conditions, former captain Ricky Ponting has predicted.
Steve Smith's men will travel to India next month having been beaten 4-0 four years ago.
They were also whitewashed 3-0 in Sri Lanka last August in similar conditions prompting Ponting to issue a grim outlook for the team.
"I think they'll struggle," the 42-year-old, who played 168 Tests for Australia told Sky Sports Radio. "Every team that goes there struggles.
"It's become harder and harder for visiting teams to go to India. They probably make wickets to suit them more than ever before."
The last time India lost a Test at home was against England at the end of 2012 and Virat Kohli's side have won their last five series to climb to the top of the Test rankings.
South Africa, New Zealand and England have all lost series in India in the last 15 months and Australia's last success in the country was in 2004 when they won a four-Test series 2-1.
"I went there for a lot of tours and we obviously played in some tough conditions," added Ponting. "But the wickets were good for the first couple of days of the game and then they started to turn.
"But now, even looking at what happened in Sri Lanka, whenever the Australian team tours anywhere on the subcontinent you can guarantee the wicket is going to turn, and turn quite a bit, from day one of the game."
Following the 3-0 drubbing in Sri Lanka, Australia's Test team plunged into a crisis with successive home defeats to South Africa. After a national outcry forced wholesale changes, they recovered by winning the final Test against South Africa in Adelaide before beating Pakistan 3-0.
"The challenges are going to be there for the Aussie team," Ponting said. "Unlike what happened in Sri Lanka, as long as they can find a way to be competitive in the Test series.
"Even if we don't win, I don't think it'd be that big of a deal.
"It's a real learning curve for our guys now to find a balance between playing the Australian way but (also) adapting that to Indian conditions."
The first Test starts in Pune on Feb. 23 and is followed by matches in Bangalore, Ranchi and Dharamsala.