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Australia v India, 2nd Test, Sydney, 2nd day
'India need a big lead'
January 3, 2008
VVS Laxman led India's fightback but India will need a lot more runs to compete in this Test - a review of day two
 
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Ian Chappell: "VVS Laxman took the attack to the Australian bowlers which was the right approach" © Getty Images

Akhila Ranganna: Hello and welcome to Cricinfo Talk. I have with me former captain of Australia Ian Chappell to look back on day two of the Sydney Test.

Possibly for the first time in this series we saw the Australian bowlers being put under pressure, and just as they struggled against Kumar Sangakkara in Hobart, they struggled against VVS Laxman here.

Ian Chappell: It's a very good batting pitch and Laxman took full advantage of it. He's in terrific form and even though Rahul Dravid was struggling at the other end and got bogged down a bit, Laxman was unaffected. The thing that I liked about his innings was that he took on the Australian fast bowlers when they pitched short by playing the horizontal bat shots. I thought someone in the Indian top-order needed to do that and when Laxman took them on, I think that made a big difference to the Indian response. He's a marvellous player and he has a fond affection for the Sydney Cricket Ground - [he's been here] thrice and every time he has scored a century

AR: Mitchell Johnson has bowled with consistent pace but has not quite been the force he was expected to be. Perhaps this is a case to look at giving Shaun Tait a go?

IC: I think the Australians will be fairly happy with Johnson. He showed signs of getting the ball to swing in to the right-handers early in the innings. He's been working on that between the Melbourne Test and this game in Sydney. He also bowled a pretty good, long spell late in the day and eventually got the wicket of Dravid. So I think the Australians will be reasonably happy with him. The big decision is going to come when they go to Perth [for the third Test] and what they do there because I think they will want to play Brad Hogg [in the side] for a bit of variety. Then I guess it will get down to a straight choice between Tait and Johnson. It will be a tough decision because I think they like the variety of having a left-arm quickie, and Johnson has kept his pace up well. So that is going to be a tough decision for the Australian selectors.

AR: Once again Hogg chipped in with a crucial wicket. How important is he to the mix of this Australian attack and how crucial will his role be going forward in this Test?

IC: I think Hogg is going to play quite a big part in this Test. If Australia are to win this Test, I think Hogg will need to get some wickets. I think he is bowling with a lot of confidence now; I think the Melbourne Test has helped him enormously. To make the runs that he did, particularly in such a crucial situation in the first innings, would have really helped his confidence. It was a very good piece of bowling that got rid of Laxman. If Australia have to win this Test, they need Hogg to perform well.

AR: Australia scoring quickly despite losing wickets has left this game with plenty of time to play. How should India approach their response? Should they look to occupy the crease or try and knock off the deficit as quickly as possible?

IC: They just have to play naturally. India need to really get a lead and quite a substantial lead to offset the fact that they are going to bat last on this pitch. It's a matter of playing naturally and the sooner they get past Australia, the quicker they are going to put pressure on them. This will have an effect on Ricky Ponting's captaincy because then he will need to start thinking seriously about saving runs which means that he will have less fielders in catching positions. The sooner that India can get in front of Australia - if they are able to do that - the better it is for them.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator for Channel 9, and a columnist


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