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VVS Laxman: a threat for Australia
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Perhaps the toughest challenge for the Indians in Australia will be getting used to the bouncy tracks and adjusting their techniques to tackle the chest-high deliveries. Greg Ritchie, the former Australian middle-order batsman, spells out the skills needed to succeed in Australia:
In Australia a batsman needs to be patient. He also needs to rely mostly on shots square of the wicket rather than straight down the ground because of the extra bounce. Even a batsman like [Sachin] Tendulkar - who scores against all sorts of bowling across the globe - will be tested by the bounce: you have to be able to cut, pull and hook to score runs in Australia. You need to be a good player off the back foot. The advantage of batting in Australia is that the ball comes on to the bat so you can hit through the line of the ball.
The range of strokes that Tendulkar and VVS Laxman possess makes them the main dangers to the Australian bowlers. These conditions are not good for Sourav Ganguly - he, and most of the others, will need to be prepared to cop a lot of short-pitched bowling. Even the great Sunil Gavaskar had problems dealing with the extra bounce. What tends to happen with visiting batsmen is that due to the extra bounce they tend to follow the ball outside off, with their hands pushing at it. But to succeed you have got to judge the line of the ball early. In India the ball comes slower off the pitch, so you can make last-minute adjustments and not get an edge, but in Australia if you misjudge the line of the ball you will end up getting an edge.
Brisbane is the best pitch in Australia - and the world - as it has a beautiful covering of grass, and is always hard and even. The Gabba is notoriously live on the first day. It won't be significantly fast, but it will have a lot of bounce, and a little bit of sideways movement, particularly in the first session. But if you can get through that period, then batting becomes easier. Conditions are best for both batsmen and bowlers on the second day: the wicket is at its fastest with maximum bounce, so there is something in it for bowlers. The ball comes on to the bat, so good batsmen can score runs and good bowlers can take wickets. Brisbane provides the best advantage to the Australians to break into the opposition batting order and stir them up quickly. A look at their recent record shows that Australia have often wrapped up matches inside four days here.
Adelaide is the best batting wicket in the world, and it will favour the Indians because it will not bounce as much as the Gabba, and it will turn towards the end of the game. It is a beautiful track and the team winning the toss must bat.
The wicket at the Melbourne Cricket Ground has changed over the recent years as it has been relaid. It is now a pretty bouncy pitch, not as fast as Brisbane and Adelaide, but it will provide assistance to the seamers on the first day due to its bounce, which will stay for about three days.
Sydney is an ordinary pitch - it will spin a lot, and finger-spinners will find it especially helpful. Anil Kumble can prosper there as he is quick through the air, but [Stuart] MacGill and [Shane] Warne have had a lot of success, too, as they turn the ball prodigiously. There will be some life in the pitch on the first day but thereafter it will turn and the bounce will be lower.
Greg Ritchie was talking to Nagraj Gollapudi.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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