Wasim Akram says the Australia-India series will be a ‘close contest’ (Picture: Getty)

Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram believes Australia are the narrow ‘favourites’ ahead of this winter’s Test series against India.

India travel to Australia later in the month to face the Baggy Greens in three ODIs, three IT20s and four Test matches.

Virat Kohli led India to a historic Test series victory over Australia in 2019 but will miss three of this winter’s Tests to be at the birth of his first child.

The 32-year-old will return home after the conclusion of the first Test, which starts on December 17.

His absence will be a significant blow to India as they prepare to face an Australian team who boast a superb record at home and hold possession of the Ashes following a 2-2 draw against England in the summer of 2019.

Looking ahead to India’s tour of Australia, Pakistan legend Akram told the Cricket Baaz YouTube channel: ‘I think Australia’s fast bowling is the best in the world.

‘They have Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and other top-class bowlers.

‘India have Mohammad Shami, [Jasprit] Bumrah, [Navdeep] Saini and others. The Indian team have got a lot of confidence.

‘Their body language has changed. As a team, they have confidence in themselves just like when we used to enter the ground in the 1990s.

‘Their body language shows they believe in themselves and the hard work they are putting in.

Virat Kohli will miss three of India’s four Tests against Australia (Picture: Getty)

‘It will be a close contest, but I would say Australia start off as favourites.’

Kohli has captained India in 55 Tests, five short of MS Dhoni’s record, and is currently second in the ICC’s Test batting rankings, behind Australia’s Steve Smith.

Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane will lead India in Kohli’s absence and Rohit Sharma has been added to the Test squad, having initially been left out because of a hamstring injury.

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