India A v Australians, Chennai, 3rd day February 18, 2013

'Good to get under pressure before Tests' - Khawaja

ESPNcricinfo staff

After Australia followed-on, on the third and final day of their last practice match before the Chennai Test, middle-order batsman Usman Khawaja said there were benefits of having to deal with pressure in game scenarios. India A's spinners, however, maintained they had struck a few blows on Australian confidence going into the Test starting Friday.

Khawaja, 30 not out in the second innings, said his team was, "as ready as we will be" for the Chennai Test. The pressure exerted by the India A spinners, he said, could lead to benefits rather than anxiety. "It's good to get out there and put ourselves under pressure in a good game scenario. You can bat in the nets as much as you want, but it's not the same."

The Australian batsmen he said "took a lot" out of their first innings performance, "which is probably why in the second innings you saw us bat better." Once again the openers Shane Watson and Ed Cowan, "set it up and then I think we batted pretty well throughout the second innings."

The match ended with Australia at 195 for 3 off 55 second-innings overs. India A fielded a second string of spinners, left-arm spinner Rakesh Dhurv from Gujarat and offspinner Jalaj Saxena from Madhya Pradesh.

The two turned up to speak on behalf of their team at the end of the game. Just like Manoj Tiwary had done on Sunday evening, they identified what they saw as holes in Australia's batting.

Dhurv said, "They don't play spinners too well which benefited us…their primary deficiency was defence. At times, they also failed to judge the speed of the deliveries."

The Australians, he said, had been asked to follow-on because India A had wanted to push for a win and the batsmen shut shop once Watson was run-out. "In the first innings they had tried to attack us but in the second they didn't. After Watson's run out, they went in to a defensive mode. I don't think they were trying to get on top of us. We thought they were only trying to save the game."

Saxena stepped in saying that India A had played its part in the practice match. "We played like one unit, as a team, like we had planned. We gave our best and wanted to put them under the maximum pressure, so they go into the Test series low on confidence. We didn't want them to get any confidence and for that we played our best."

Whether this can translate into an on-field impact in the Chennai Test depends, Dhurv said, on how early the Indians took control of the series.

"Everything depends on how the Indian team plays in the first few matches. If India win the first one or two matches, then it will be very difficult for them to come back. Let's see how things go when the Test series starts."

The way Khawaja saw it, though the Australians had put up, "quite a few good performances this game."

The three Australian spinners in the game would not include themselves on that list, but Khawaja said that focusing too much on the demands of Indian wickets was missing the point.

"We've actually said that spin plays a big part in India but it's not the only thing that plays a big part in India," he said. "We've seen that pace can be effective as spin out here. And our bowlers proved that in the last few tour matches so we'll have to wait and see what happens."

He was asked whether Australia was "ready to face three spinners on a rank turner?" His reply gently tried to put the attention on the home side, "If you go out that way, the spinners have a lot of pressure on them too. If there is a turning wicket they are expected to take wickets and if they don't then it's a different game, but that's Test match cricket. You're in India - the ball turns, you get reverse swing that's a part of it."

Outside Watson and Cowan, despite Australia's nervy batting performance in the practice match, Khawaja said the central idea behind Australia's batting approach needed to be positivity. "You have to be positive no matter where you are in Australia, South Africa or India. If you're not trying to score runs, you might as well not be in the middle... you've just got to find your own way to do it."

The starting point of Australia's positivity as a batting unit comes from its opener David Warner currently trying to recover from a fractured thumb. Khawaja said that he was confident that Warner would be ready for the Test. "David has been hitting a lot in the last couple of days and I think he'll be alright. We'll find out in the next few days what happens. It just depends on what is a good balance for the team."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sherjil on February 19, 2013, 12:20 GMT

    For the first time between an India - Australia series, no body can really predict who is favorite..... It's too tough to predict anything about these two sides who are struggling with player retirements,forms, and injuries.The series could go either way with any possible margins.Just hoping to see extremely competitive cricket from both sides as this is the USP of all India-Australia series.

  • Prasanna on February 19, 2013, 9:29 GMT

    come on Aussies !! Lets treat this one as a a good wakeup call !! Go for it !! Nothing is impossible !! Lets get inspired by the Poms (Ashes shall come later ) and put up some show !! Go Aus !! God bless !!

  • Himanshu on February 19, 2013, 9:24 GMT

    One big difference between tour games and test match is that the later is the REAL test match. Aussies will have Clarke in and most probably Warner too. In that case, it will be a very different looking batting performance from the visitors. India on the other hand would dearly hope that Bhajji finds his old form back ASAP. Ashwin does not look like a bowler who can run through a side and Ojha is best when there is pressure from the other end. If Bhajji fires, everything will fall back in place for India.

  • Dummy4 on February 19, 2013, 8:12 GMT

    I simply do not understand comments pertaining to forcing Australia to follow on ..... what part of potential headlines across India of "Australias lose to India A by and Innings" don't you understand?? It would have been a humiliating loss.

  • Mariam on February 19, 2013, 7:50 GMT

    Paul and hyclass, do you think this will be sachin's last series

  • Phil on February 19, 2013, 6:25 GMT

    Interesting to note that Brett Lee and David Boon came out supporting Watson as opener over Cowan. That on top of Ian Chappell. Cowan surely has his critics and one feels that he either has to score big in India or he won't be going to the ashes. Watto's decision not to bowl may cost Cowan highly. @Evangelyst yes we are a good side but so is India at home, so its set up to be a big series, we are underdogs but we can match India if we get the team right. I would still lean towards 6 specialsit batsman which allows Watson, Cowan and Khawaja to play. Khawaja and Warner can have huge series if they can get through the spin barage. Judging by the tour game, it's not our openers we need to worry about as runs in the first 15 overs seem the easiest to get, its the middle order which will need to stand up - sure Clarke has to come in for the Test, but otherwise Khawaja, Hughes and Wade will have to stand up.

  • Allan on February 19, 2013, 6:07 GMT

    Yeah agreed Michael. I don't think the players volunteer to speak to the media, I think you'll find it's part of their contracted obligations as players. His comments are a pretty accurate, succinct view of the upcoming series for me. A refreshing lack of arrogance even. Playing three spinners (or more) could certainly be viewed as a more risky gambit than Australia potentially playing one. I hope Khawaja gets a good go in this series, and fulfils some of his potential. Tough task though no doubt, a traditionally opener/no.3 making your way back in to the team against the Indians at home. Should be a great series and yes i am predicting Sachin will fire in this series, he is too good not to.

  • Balaji on February 19, 2013, 5:41 GMT

    Gambhir is not that much stupid to give the australian batting the reqd practice.He delibrately did it as he was dropped. Watson or Cowan will hit a century in the first test.Gambir a mean fellow.

  • Rahul on February 19, 2013, 4:50 GMT

    @luvinda its a bit ambitious comparing Hayden and Cook to Cowan, the former guys average 50+, Cowan 32. Honestly i understand if you have favorites but best not to make unfair comparisons. Brett Lee and Boon came out stating they want Watto opening instead of Cowan so he will have to prove his critics wrong with some big scores and it has to be this series. As for Khawaja's comments, sure the pressure is on India but we all know that our guys in Watson, Cowan, Hughes and Khawaja are all stronger against the fast men then spinners so pressure will be on all these guys to show that they can get runs in foregign conditions. And i know Hughes didn't get runs in the warm up game but him and Khawaja at 3 and 4 form a formidable pair and could be our guns not only in this series but also ashes.