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March 1, 2013
Spin will play a big part in this game too - Clarke
Australia appear set to make a late change to their line-up for the second Test in Hyderabad after earlier indications were that they would use the same XI that lost in Chennai. Cricket Australia did not reveal the nature of the change but the most likely scenario is that it would surround the makeup of the attack on a pitch that the captain Michael Clarke said would take turn from the first day but also hoped would offer more for the fast men than the Chennai surface.
The backup spinners in the squad, Xavier Doherty and Glenn Maxwell, could be considered, while a pace-for-pace swap involving Mitchell Johnson is another possibility. On Friday morning the indications were that Australia would name an unchanged line-up but Clarke said the selectors would not commit to an XI until after seeing the pitch again during the afternoon.*
"I'm hoping there will be a bit more pace in this wicket because it's a bit harder surface," Clarke said before the team's training session on Friday. "I don't think this wicket will be any tougher than Chennai. That was a really tough wicket, so I think we have seen the toughest of conditions.
"The wicket will certainly deteriorate as the Test goes on, so it's a positive for our fast bowlers that it will be a little bit up and down. But spin from day one will play a huge part in this Test. I'd be very surprised if India played any less spin, put it that way. Looking at it yesterday, it looked like a day three or day four pitch."
Two days out from the match, there were already a few cracks developing but the surface did not have the clay-like appearance of the Chennai pitch. The harder surface should give a little more encouragement to Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle and James Pattinson, although Clarke said Starc and Siddle would still need to learn from the way that Pattinson used speed through the air as his major weapon rather than relying on assistance from the pitch.
"You have to hit the wicket really hard here," Clarke said. "If you just put the ball there you get nothing out of the conditions, even if the ball is reverse swinging. In Chennai it was really hard to be caught behind the wicket once the ball was 10-15 overs old, so we needed to use our speed through the air. I think Patto did that really well - he ran in hard, hit the wicket really hard and he got more out of the pitch, and more out of the ball than Sidds and Starcy. We've certainly spoken about that."
Siddle and Starc are not the only members of the attack who will need to rethink their strategy after struggling in Chennai. Nathan Lyon leaked far too many runs in the first Test and will need to find a way to keep things tighter if he plays in Hyderabad. Clarke said Lyon had shown some encouraging signs towards the end of the Chennai Test.
"On grounds in India it's very easy to go for a lot more runs because they're smaller and have fast outfields," Clarke said. "I thought Lyno showed his character in the second innings. I wish we had 150-200 runs on the board because then he would have had the opportunity to bowl in inconsistent spin, pace and bounce on a day-five wicket that I know he would have loved. He's been fine [since the Test]. He's working hard every day to try and get better.
"I think it's important for all of us as a team to stay positive and confident. We saw what happened with England over here. For a lot of the guys, it was their first Test match in India and those conditions are as tough as they are going to be for a fast-bowling unit and the batsmen. I think there are a lot of positives we've got to take out of the game, we've looked at areas we need to improve and a lot of that is about patience with both bat and ball."
Clarke said he was confident that Doherty, the other specialist spinner in the touring party, would offer plenty to the team if he was added to the XI. Doherty's first-class figures of 122 wickets at 44.56 do not make for encouraging reading, nor does the fact that he has managed only two wickets at 80 this Sheffield Shield season. But Clarke said it was unfair to extrapolate how Doherty might fare in India from how he bowls at home.
"He's bowling at Bellerive (Bellerive Oval, Hobart)," Clarke said. "I think that's a little bit different to Chennai or Chandigarh. I think if you have a look at fast bowling in Australia compared to spin bowling, because of our conditions in first-class cricket, fast bowling will always outweigh spin bowling. I'm surprised a spinner gets a bowl at Bellerive because the game is nearly over in two-and-a-half days. I don't think it would be fair on any of our spinners to compare their statistics in Australia to how important their impact could be in the sub-continent."
13.55GMT, March 1: The article was updated following Australia's practice session on Friday.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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