India v Australia, 2nd Test, Hyderabad

Spin strategies take centre stage

The Preview by Siddarth Ravindran

March 1, 2013

Comments: 89 | Text size: A | A

Match facts

March 2-6, Hyderabad
Start time 9.30am (0400GMT)


Michael Clarke has a bowl, India v Australia, 1st Test, Chennai, 3rd day, February 24, 2013
Will Michael Clarke once again be Australia's second spinner, or will Nathan Lyon have more back-up? © BCCI
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Big Picture

The clinical victory in Chennai marked a job well begun by India, but MS Dhoni's side won't be too thrilled yet, having lost the previous series against England despite taking a 1-0 lead. England's fortunes turned with the inclusion of the extra spinner in Monty Panesar for the second Test in Mumbai, and Australia's team management have also been pondering whether to switch to a two-spinner policy, which has historically not worked too well for them in India.

What could prompt Australia to stick to their pace-heavy line-up will be that left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty's Test credentials aren't in the same league as Panesar 's, evidenced by an unflattering first-class average of 44.56.

India, too, have been wondering about an additional tweaker, though in their case it will expand their spin trio to a quartet. Pragyan Ojha, the left-arm spinner, was perhaps India's best bowler in the series defeat to England but was surprisingly left out in the first Test. India's quicks had little to do in Chennai, and Ojha could take one of their places.

Though Ojha is the latest in a long line of Hyderabad players to have played Tests for India, the city has not been a traditional venue for Test cricket, having only hosted three matches till 2009. Tests returned to Hyderabad in 2010 at the new Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, and the Australia match will be the third in Hyderabad in three years. It is the only Indian stadium to get two Tests this season, benefitting after the Australians complained about the facilities in the original host city, Kanpur. Briefly there were concerns that the match might be moved out of Hyderabad as well, after powerful bomb blasts hit the city just over a week ago. Security has been tightened before the match, with two units of an elite anti-terror squad deployed, and 60 CCTVs being used to monitor the stadium and surroundings.

Form guide

India WDLLW (Last five matches, most recent first)
Australia LWWWL

Watch out for...

In Chennai, James Pattinson once again showed why he's rated so highly by Australia's team management, bowling with ferocious pace to fluster India's batsmen and finishing comfortably the best of the Australia's fast bowlers. Pattinson has a tendency to break down, though, and was used only in two short bursts of three overs each early in the first innings. Can his body handle the intensity of back-to-back Tests?

Pattinson dismissed the opener M Vijay cheaply in both innings. The Chennai Test was Vijay's first chance in more than 18 months, and failure in the second Test could relegate him to the sidelines again. With Gautam Gambhir out of the squad, runs in Hyderabad might open the way to a long run in the side for Vijay. He didn't have the best of Ranji seasons - making only 138 at 17.25 in five matches - but will be hoping to capture the form that brought him centuries in both Irani Cup (a first-class Indian domestic match, which pits the Ranji champions against a Rest of India side) games this season.

Teams news

After the Chennai victory, MS Dhoni had talked about India having found a 'settled' side, indicating that there aren't likely to be too many changes. The only decision the team management will have to make is whether to bring in Ojha, and if so, at whose expense.

India: (probable) 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 M Vijay, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Sachin Tendulkar, 5 Virat Kohli, 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 8 R Ashwin, 9 Harbhajan Singh, 10 and 11 Bhuvneshwar Kumar/ Ishant Sharma/Pragyan Ojha

Unlike Chennai, where Australia confidently announced their XI well before the match, they have yet to name their team for Hyderabad. The batting is unlikely to change, unless keeper Matthew Wade (who was hit on the cheek during Friday's practice session) is forced to sit out*. If Wade does miss out, Phillip Hughes is likely to take over wicketkeeping duties with batsman Usman Khawaja slotting in. David Warner, who suffered a bout of gastro in Chennai, is fully fit Clarke said on the eve of the Test.

Australia: (possible) 1 David Warner, 2 Ed Cowan, 3 Phillip Hughes, 4 Shane Watson, 5 Michael Clarke (capt), 6 Matthew Wade (wk)/Usman Khawaja, 7 Moises Henriques, 8 Peter Siddle, 9 Mitchell Starc/Mitchell Johnson/Xavier Doherty, 10 James Pattinson, 11 Nathan Lyon

Pitch and conditions

It will be hotter in Hyderabad than in Chennai, with the temperature predicted to be around 35C in the afternoons. There is no rain forecast over the next week. The pitch is expected to provide help for the spinners, though it should have more in it for the quick bowlers than the turner in Chennai as it is a harder surface.

Stats and trivia

  • In his previous innings, Dhoni moved into the top 10 among six-hitters in Test cricket, going past Kevin Pietersen. He has cleared the ropes 75 times in Tests, and needs 26 more to break the all-time record held by Adam Gilchrist
  • Peter Siddle's bowling strike-rate of 41.6 is the best by an Australian against India

Quotes

"When you go onto a ground, you have a good feeling if you have done well before over there … [you have] a good positive mindset."
R Ashwin took 12 wickets in his previous Test in Hyderabad

14.00GMT, March 1: Australia's team news was updated following their practice session on Friday.

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

RSS Feeds: Siddarth Ravindran

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Al_Bundy1 on (March 2, 2013, 3:51 GMT)

If Vijay and Sehwag fail in this match, both of them should be kicked out of the Indian squad. Sehwag has been living on his past for too long and Vijay is simply not test class. Jaffer and Dhawan deserve a shot as opening batsmen. Bhajji and Ishant need to be kicked out too. Bhajji has lost his mojo, and Ishant will always be a mediocre pacer. Rassol is currently India's best off spinner, and Shami Ahmed is a much better pacer than Ishant.

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas_Atheist on (March 2, 2013, 3:43 GMT)

As expected the politician Dhoni keeps Ojha out. Shame! This isn't cricket.

Posted by Nish_US on (March 2, 2013, 3:41 GMT)

Leaving out ojha - I hope and pray that the best team wins, the best bowler gets the wickets and the un-deserved is shown their place

Posted by Bonehead_maz on (March 2, 2013, 3:39 GMT)

Henriques is a pretty good no 8. Expect something extra special from Maxwell.

Posted by baranasai on (March 2, 2013, 3:09 GMT)

I feel Ajink Rahane is a good choice for opener as Both Shewag as well as Murali seem to be struggling =may be they should drop Shewag and go for the youngster.Ohja should come in for Bhajji as he seems lacking in consistency-takinhg only 3 wickets for a big average.Iam not sure whether Ash can repeat his performance so we need a back up like Ohja than Bhajji We still need 2 fast bowlers as they may come in handy if the wicket at some stage is not spinner friendly. If Kumar or Ishant may get some wickets it will be good

Posted by Jayzuz on (March 2, 2013, 0:28 GMT)

Clarke may as well come up to bat at 4. Hell, he could even open - the Indian pacemen have yet to take a wicket this series, and with only one wicket amongst them in the 3 tour games so far, even Nathan Lyon would be itching to get at them on these neutered tracks. Clearly two spinners is the way to go, given that the Indian curators have stooped to micro-doctoring sections of the pitch to neutralise the quicks and give advantage to spinners. If nothing else it would put the curators in two minds as to which parts of the track to manipulate.

Posted by CricketMatrix on (March 1, 2013, 23:00 GMT)

If any changes, which I doubt, please replace bhajji with ojha! :)

Posted by vish2020 on (March 1, 2013, 22:36 GMT)

what's up with non-indians begging for wicket for seamers? Do we indians get spinner friendly pitches in AUS? exactly and we don't say where is spinner friendly when we go there. This is HOME series if you have forgotten and at home you have pitches that you like. This is always case since the beginning of cricket!

Posted by wellrounded87 on (March 1, 2013, 22:25 GMT)

I think playing Doherty is a mistake. Regardless of the conditions, the Indian Batsmen will love a sup par spinner like Doherty offering them easy runs. The only way i would like 2 spinners in the AUS side would be if it were Lyon and O'Keefe or possibly maxwell, only because at least if Maxwell fails with the ball he can offer something with the bat.

Why is O'Keefe not in India is completely beyond me. First class average of 27.87 for a spinner... that's a better first class average than Ashwin. Australian selectors seriously need their heads pulled out of their nether regions.

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