India A v Australians, Chennai, 1st day February 16, 2013

Early success eludes Australian spinners

ESPNcricinfo staff

Australia's final practice match, against India A, before the first Test in Chennai has brought a general assumption to public notice: that in the spin department, Michael Clarke does not have the pedigree that was available to Alastair Cook during England's historic series win in India three months ago.

Spinners Xavier Doherty, Nathan Lyon and the teenager Ashton Agar went for 244 runs in the 49 overs they bowled to the India A batsmen at the Guru Nanak Ground. It was a large chunk of India A's first-day total of 338 for 4.

In comparison, the quicks Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle and Moises Henriques' conceded 86 runs in 41 overs. Despite being the stronger half of the Australians' bowling unit, they did not opt for the second new ball when it was due. The focus was on working on the old ball to keep it reversing, a strategy they hope will help them take 20 wickets in every Test.

Doherty said the Australians had come to India after studying how Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann had bowled at a quicker pace than the Indians spinners, slightly higher than 90kph. "It's not always going to work," he said. "A bowler like Nathan [Lyon], he's not going to bowl that fast. That's not his game and he's not going to change his game just because it worked for someone else."

Doherty, the quickest of the spinners today - "it comes naturally to me, all the way through my career I've been faster than the average spinner" - was also the most successful, taking three of the four wickets to fall, and the most economical.

Australia's spinners, he said, had struggled in several departments - finding the lengths and the pace at which to bowl on slow turners, and when attacked by the India A batsmen. Doherty said there was a little more 'skid' in his bowling, when compared to that of the two taller spinners. He said he found his rhythm in his final spell, and hopefully that would "bode well for a Test selection at some stage, but I'm not so sure… we've got plenty more work to do, training sessions, two more days to go."

Rohit Sharma, who scored 77 for India A, was more sangfroid about his assessment of Australia's slow bowlers and said they had attacked too much. "Their fielders were closing in - we could take our chances and score those runs quickly. It's a different ball game when it comes to a Test match, they were trying a few things so we took advantage of that … I am not saying that they are not good bowlers. You cannot underestimate anybody."

Rohit came in at No. 3 and was involved in two partnerships, 128 with the centurion Gautam Gambhir for the second wicket and 71 with Manoj Tiwary for the third. Siddle and Starc had conceded only 12 runs in the first 10 overs and Rohit said they had "bowled tight lines" on a pitch with low bounce and a slow outfield. "In the middle we saw them bowling reverse and … in a four-over period, it was doing a lot. That period was very crucial and we didn't give any wickets."

He said India A would take a call after the first five or six overs of the second day whether to declare early.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ashif on February 17, 2013, 12:19 GMT

    Well I guess I was half right. Just shows what the Australians are like without Michael Clarke.

  • Ashif on February 17, 2013, 10:36 GMT

    @Hammond I have grown up with Indian cricket and I can assure you that Australia have performed well. In Indian domestic cricket 550-600 is considered par thanks to their ridiculous pitches. You can judge Indian pitch quality when you realise Ravindra Jadeja has 3 triple tons in Ranji cricket when he hasnt come close to sniffing a ton in international cricket. The current India A are better than the real indian lineup(with the exception of Kohli & Pujara) & the India A that England faced. I wouldnt be surprised if Australia zoomed to 60 in 10 overs and 120 in 20 overs or something like that(warm-up pitches in India are generally as flat as possible to demoralize opposition bowlers)

  • Geoffrey on February 17, 2013, 9:30 GMT

    Oh dear. This isn't even remotely the best Indian batting lineup. Do the Aussies really think that the pitches in the test matches will be any friendlier to their "awesome" pace attack? I smell a disaster, the green Aussie batsmen haven't even batted yet.

  • Patrick on February 17, 2013, 1:45 GMT

    Not such a bad day out for Aust, Doherty & Henriques producing respectable returns, should help settle the 1st Test line up. Siddle & Lyon would be certainties, Starc is our most successful at finding swing (though yet to be proven in India with a Red ball). My XI, Warner, Cowan, Hughes, Watson, Clarke, Wade, Henriques, Starc, Siddle, Patto, Lyon, X. Good balance there IMO anyway...As for Wade @6, important we remember back when Gilly was locked in @7 we had a top 6 batsmen or 2 who bowled useful overs, Clarke, North, Symonds, and not to mention the imperative to heavily bowl Warne & McGrath who could attack & contain, takes 2 each to replace!

  • michael on February 16, 2013, 23:13 GMT

    Simoc. So you're saying that Doherty and Lyon are going to turn into great spinners like Warne! They're horrendous. Shows your knowledge of spin bowling.

  • Andrew on February 16, 2013, 23:13 GMT

    @mikey76 on (February 16, 2013, 15:20 GMT) - you have no clue. Apart from the fact one spinner used is a novice, the real contenders were 3/156 & experimenting. It has absolutely zero to do with quality. It could be argued that (Batting-wise) this is the strongest Indian top-6 fielded since VVS & Dravid retired.

  • Simon on February 16, 2013, 21:01 GMT

    That's pretty much the ideal preparation. Getting to bowl to a couple of test batsmen and acclimatizing to new conditions. The batters were established when the spinners came on and relished the opportunity. However as Sharma said, tests are a different environment. Good experience for Agar but we are going to need two spinners. So its either Maxwell or Doherty for the first test with Lyon, and I fancy Dohertys chances at present. Mikey76; Shane Warne achieved 1-250 at the SCG when he started and that sums up your knowledge of Australian spin bowling.

  • Alex on February 16, 2013, 19:08 GMT

    Stick to your strengths i say, and our strength is with our pace bowling, i don't think you would see South Africa change their approach and bring in Tahir for someone like Philander if they were touring India.

    Not to impressed with some of the preparation for some of our players also, Pattinson and Bird have only bowled a couple of overs, some of the batters will only have 1 hit before the first test, whilst Clarke, Warner and Johnson all will be starting the first test without any game practice for the conditions and not played a first class match since New Years test. Eng showed how a team should prepare for a tour in India by playing 3 warm ups.

  • Jay on February 16, 2013, 19:02 GMT

    @Sriram Venkataramani: Wow, are you serious sir ? Indian fans such as yourself will NEVER appreciate the efforts of our players. All you guys can see is negativity all around. I guess it's in the blood of most Indians. They simply never know when to appreciate good work. It's all about hindsight and what-ifs. The GN College grounds may not be a world class facility, but I am sure Gambir scored those runs against the AUSTRALIAN bowlers and not some local school bowlers. So cut the attitude and support our team. I am sure the Aussies will return the favour even more tomorrow when their mediocre bowlers leak even more runs to the young India A batsmen.

  • Jay on February 16, 2013, 18:57 GMT

    @GRVJPR: Of course Indian pitches help spin bowling, it's just that we had a great batting line up that neutralized the threat of Warne and Murali. The Indian team now is going through a transitional phase and they are bound to mess up from time to time. Also, Monty and Swann are accomplished spinners who know how to properly bowl accurate lines and lengths. Speaking of Harbhajan, it's been more than 7 or 8 years since he has bowled well. So the problem lies with him, not the pitches. Bring Saeed Ajmal to India and watch the number of 5 wicket hauls he can bag consistently. It's all in the spinner's ability and skill level, stop blaming the pitch.

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