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February 26, 2013
Michael Clarke has said Australia's selectors won't rush to judgment about whether a second spinner is required for the second Test in Hyderabad after their eight-wicket loss to India in Chennai. On a pitch that took turn from day one it was not surprising that India's spin attack was one of the most dominant forces of the game, and the three of them - R Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh and Ravindra Jadeja - took all 20 Australian wickets.
But Australia's frontline spinner Nathan Lyon picked up only four victims for the match, while eight came from the fast bowlers - six to James Pattinson and one each to Peter Siddle and Moises Henriques. Lyon was at times threatening, but also leaked far too many easy runs. He was milked for singles by all of India's middle-order batsmen and was especially vulnerable against MS Dhoni, who scored 104 off the 85 balls he faced from Lyon.
The left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty is the other specialist spinner in the squad and Clarke was impressed with the control he displayed in the tour match against India A, when he took 3 for 108 from 24 overs. However, Clarke would not be drawn on whether Australia had made a mistake by choosing a pace-heavy attack for the Test and he said better bowling from those who were picked might have helped Australia to a different outcome.
"Australian spin took three wickets in the first innings, fast bowling took a lot more," Clarke said. "That doesn't mean to say that playing three fast bowlers and a medium-pace allrounder, we got that right. We need to assess, we need to look at conditions again and work out what we think is the best XI [in Hyderabad]. It's not just about selection, it's about how you perform, I don't think we bowled well enough in our first innings and we certainly didn't bat well enough in our second innings.
"You can talk about selection as much as you like but the 11 players you select have got to perform better than we did in this Test. Look at the amount of wickets fast bowling got compared to spin for the Australian team. We are not India. We are a different team, we have different fast bowlers to the Indian fast bowlers and we have different spinners to the Indian spinners."
Traditionally, Australia's spinners have not enjoyed Test cricket in India as much as the conditions suggest they should, partially because of the different style of bowling required and in part because India's batsmen are generally strong against spin. Richie Benaud and Ashley Mallett had fine records in India, although their tours were during the 1950s and '60s, when the Indian team was not the dominant force at home that it has become.
In more recent times, Australia's spinners in India have at best been serviceable in India. Shane Warne, who after the Test met with Clarke, coach Mickey Arthur, Lyon and Doherty for a 20-minute chat on the ground, managed only 34 wickets at 43.11 in his nine Tests in the country. Lyon finished his first Test in India with match figures of 4 for 244 and Clarke said he hoped Lyon would learn from the experience and deliver greater consistency throughout the rest of the trip.
"He's got to stay positive," Clarke said. "He bowled plenty of overs so he has seen the conditions a lot more. He got a couple of really big wickets for us. 'Lyno', like all of our attack, I thought he bowled really well in patches. We've just got to keep working on that consistency. There are plenty of positives out that for Lyno. It's nice to see him get a wicket in the second dig as well."
However, while Pattinson was outstanding in collecting six wickets for the match - the first Australian fast bowler to do that in a Test in India since Jason Gillespie in Nagpur in 2004 - he and Lyon could have used some more wicket-taking support from Siddle and Mitchell Starc. Virtually no deliveries moved off the seam and reverse swing played less of a role than Australia had hoped, but Clarke wanted more patience from his stock bowlers.
"They tried everything," Clarke said. "I think our execution wasn't as disciplined as we need, especially when the wicket's good for batting like that. You need to be really patient and be able to build pressure. We did that at stages but not as consistently as we needed to."
Whatever Australia decide for the Hyderabad Test, which starts on Saturday, they will have at least three pace options after the strong debut from Henriques with the bat made it impossible for him to be dropped. Although Henriques claimed just one wicket, he was the only batsman besides Clarke who looked at ease in the conditions and scored 68 and 81 not out, the best aggregate on debut by an Australian since Clarke in 2004.
"If we don't have a third fast bowler Moises can certainly do that role," Clarke said. "I think it's very exciting the way he has started. He's been a very talented player for a long time back in Australia but it's nice to see that potential come to the forefront in his first Test match. I think he looked very comfortable with both bat and ball. That's exciting for Australian cricket going forward and very exciting for Moises."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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