Need to take pressure off Clarke - Wade
Australia's wicketkeeper Matthew Wade has said the batsmen need to find the right balance between patience and aggression if they are to give Michael Clarke the support he needs to turn the Test tour of India around. Clarke has scored more than twice as many runs as any other member of Australia's top six during the first two Tests and will move up the order from No.5 for the third Test in Mohali in an effort to exert greater influence on Australia's batting innings.
More than a quarter of Australia's runs in the series have come off the bat of Clarke but only two batsmen have accompanied him for meaningful partnerships, Moises Henriques, in a 151-run stand in Chennai, and Wade for a 145-run partnership in Hyderabad. That ended when Wade cut a catch to backward point off Harbhajan Singh for 62, the ball after a missed stumping, and Wade said he knew he had thrown away a chance to really influence the game.
"Michael has had to score a truckload of runs for us," Wade said. "I felt very disappointed when I got out in this Test match. We'd put on nearly 150 runs and we were both really going. If I could have hung around with him, it could have been endless. Individually we'd like to stick around with him and help him out a little bit more and take the pressure off him. But I'm sure he's going to keep scoring runs no matter what."
For most of Australia's batsmen getting starts has not been the problem, but rather finding a way to stay at the crease long and push through to a much longer innings. In some cases they have fallen trying to force some runs to relieve pressure, while in other instances they have found themselves too tentative. Achieving the right balance is a fine art that the Indian batsmen have mastered in this series.
"Getting a boundary away or playing a scoring shot relieves the pressure a little bit," Wade said. "It's hard work to try to stay mentally in your game plan and not go away from that when the spinners are bowling really well. One thing that I definitely saw in the first innings [in Hyderabad] is when you do get on top, things start to happen a lot quicker. You can go from 20 to 50 quickly in these conditions.
"We might have to be a little bit more aggressive at times to get India to do something different because if they get into a rhythm and just bowl dot after dot, the game's not going anywhere for us. We're just sitting ducks. We've got to try to be a little bit more aggressive and put the pressure back on their bowlers."
However, in some cases when the Australians have tried to do just that it has cost them their wickets. Two Tests in to the series, the batsmen are starting to realise just how difficult the Indian conditions can be in Test cricket, which is a new experience for all but Clarke and Shane Watson among the batting group. Wade said the first two Tests had "definitely" been a wake-up call for the batsmen, who had a centre-wicket practice session on the Hyderabad pitch on what should have been day five of the Test.
"The West Indies [2012 tour] was similar to these kinds of conditions, big-spinning wickets, hard to score, good spinners, good quicks bowling reverse," Wade said. "Coming from Australian conditions to these conditions is a massive difference and it has taken a little bit of time to adapt. But that's no excuse. We had two trials games where our batters got good innings and our bowlers had a good bowl.
"We were a little bit flat [after the loss] but training has helped the mood, to get out there and start honing our skills again. Going to a ground day five when you were supposed to be playing, it's not a great result when you are there training, but everyone was pretty focused individually on how to get better. The bigger thing is that as a team we need to get better so as the training session went on people got a little more relaxed and came out of their shell."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here