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March 5, 2013
Michael Clarke has suggested that there could be changes to Australia's line-up for the third Test in Mohali after what he called "unacceptable" performances from both the batsmen and bowlers in the first two matches. Clarke also conceded that the shot selection of the batsmen had been "horrible" so far on the tour and called on them to show more patience in the middle, as their Indian counterparts had done.
Speaking straight after the defeat by an innings and 135 runs in Hyderabad, Clarke did not foreshadow what team alterations could occur, other than to confirm that he would move up the order from his No.5 position. None of the top four batsmen have averaged more than 30 during the first two Tests, while James Pattinson is the only bowler averaging under 30.
The squad includes three men who are yet to play a Test on this trip - Mitchell Johnson, Usman Khawaja and Steven Smith - and the other two players left out of Hyderabad after the Chennai loss, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon, will also be in consideration. The team has eight days to regroup ahead of the third Test and Clarke said the batting and bowling departments would both be under the microscope.
"We have to look at both areas that's for sure," Clarke said. "Both have been unacceptable, both aren't good enough. We have to try and find ways to improve and if that means making changes that's what we have to do. We made a couple of changes for this Test match. I want to pay credit to India, the way [Cheteshwar] Pujara and Vijay played. Our bowlers in patches bowled really well but they were able to stay together and not lose their wicket and bat patiently."
While the bowlers only claimed one victim on the second day of the Test as Pujara and M Vijay put on 370 for the second wicket, it was the team's first-day batting that really started the rot. After Clarke won the toss and chose to bat Australia struggled to 237, a paltry effort compared to the 503 compiled by India.
The accurate seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar accounted for three of the top four batsmen in the first innings and spin then troubled the rest. Clarke and Matthew Wade looked comfortable during their 145-run partnership but only three other stands reached double figures. That was followed by a second innings collapse on the fourth morning and the entire innings lasted less than two sessions. But the most damning statistic was that Australia made less in the whole match than Pujara and Vijay did in one partnership.
"I think they scored 50 runs in the [first] session, but they had the discipline and the patience to bat long periods of time because they knew as the game went on, second session, third session, they would catch up," Clarke said. "It gets easier. It does. That's the fun part about batting. You do the work at the start of your innings, you get the reward at the end of your innings. At the moment our shot selection has been horrible.
"We need to be smarter with our shot selection, that's for sure. You have seen in the first few Tests too many guys getting out playing across the line of the ball and against the spin especially early in our innings. So I think we have to be more disciplined with our shot selection. But I don't want guys to curb their natural instinct, I don't want guys to try and play a way they aren't comfortable doing.
"We've had the best of conditions, won the toss and batted on both wickets. We knew before coming to India how important the first innings was going to be. There is more variable bounce, more spin, it is harder to bat in the second innings. That doesn't excuse today, that's for sure. We still should be doing than we did today and yesterday but our first innings has really let us down as a batting unit."
The result was Australia's first innings defeat since the Sydney Ashes Test in 2010-11, when Clarke found himself in charge of the Test side for the first time as the stand-in captain when Ricky Ponting was injured. When asked to offer his overall thoughts following the second-innings collapse for 131, Clarke was blunt in his assessment.
"It's probably more polite of me by not putting it into words," Clarke said. "It's obviously unacceptable. Very disappointing. I certainly don't want to take any credit away from India, I thought they played very well yesterday, they showed us once again how to bat in these conditions, they showed us once you get in how to go on and cash in and make a big score.
"Our performances in these two Test matches have been unacceptable, certainly nowhere near the standard we are trying to set as an Australian cricket team. There's plenty of people that not only watch us on TV but fly around the world to support us and watch us and we know we've let them down."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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