Australia in India 2012-13

Australia hope for pace in Punjab

Brydon Coverdale

March 10, 2013

Comments: 34 | Text size: A | A

Moises Henriques bowled a disciplined spell before lunch, India v Australia, 2nd Test, Hyderabad, 2nd day, March 3, 2013
Moises Henriques is looking to make more of an impact with his bowling © BCCI
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Reasons for hope have been few and far between for the Australians during this tour of India. But the third Test in Mohali was always going to provide a glimmer. Last time a Test was played at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium was in 2010, when India beat Australia by one wicket. Mitchell Johnson took a five-for. So did Zaheer Khan. Ben Hilfenhaus and Doug Bollinger were in the wickets. All up, 25 batsmen fell to pace over the course of the Test, and only 12 to spin.

Of course, a lot can change in two and a half years. Just ask Simon Katich, who was opening with Shane Watson during that Test. Or the first-choice spinner Nathan Hauritz. In fact, Clarke, Watson and Johnson are the only three men from that XI who are part of this squad. But after India's spinners claimed 20 wickets in Chennai and 14 in Hyderabad, any suggestion of a more pace-friendly surface will be welcomed by the Australians.

"I think it is the one place in India, or one of the few places in India, that is renowned for a bit of pace and bounce," the allrounder Moises Henriques, who has played limited-overs cricket at the venue, said. "But in comparison to wickets in Australia there still won't be the same amount that you get back home. But it's certainly one place where the quicks could come in and do a little bit more damage on."

The Australians trained at the ground on Sunday but the pitch square remained under cover in gloomy weather, with the possibility of rain during the day. It has been difficult for the Australian fast bowlers so far on the tour, although James Pattinson used his pace to collect six wickets in Chennai. Henriques was the fourth seamer in Chennai and the third in Hyderabad, and has managed only one wicket at 93.

"It has been tough. I feel like I've been bowling okay without really having that penetration to get through and take some wickets, which a lot of the seam bowlers have been struggling with over here," Henriques said. "I've got to not only be able to keep it tight as the allrounder and build pressure but somehow find a way to start taking some wickets as well. It is tough for the quicks over here but maybe we're not coming up with the right plans." However, Henriques was impressive with the bat with a pair of half-centuries on debut in Chennai, before he was bowled trying to play against the spin in the first innings in Hyderabad and then suffered an unfortunate run-out in the second innings. The struggles of Australia's batting line-up mean Henriques remains the second leading run scorer in the squad with 154 at 51.33, and the batsmen need to offer significantly more support to Michael Clarke, who has 268 runs at 67.

"Michael has been scoring a lot of runs for us and we need to chip in and take a lot of the pressure off Michael so he can play with a bit of freedom," Henriques said. "We do have the players to do it and after the first couple of Tests we're starting to learn more about the conditions over here. I think a lot of the ... playing XI hadn't played a lot of cricket over here, especially in five-day cricket. Although it was disappointing the first two Tests are a learning curve. We've just got to keep learning and getting better, that's all we can do at this stage."

A return to Mohali might also provide some pleasant memories for the vice-captain Watson, who has not scored a Test hundred since his 126 in the last Test at the venue in 2010. Clarke's decision to move up the order for this game could mean Watson is also bumped up to No.3, if the struggling Phillip Hughes is left out, but the batting line-up is far from the only decision Australia's selectors must make over the next few days.

Unless the pitch provides a surprise when it is uncovered, it is unlikely the Australians will again pick two spinners as they did in Hyderabad, meaning either Johnson or Mitchell Starc would likely be included. There is also the question of which spinner to play, with Xavier Doherty having struggled for impact until the end of India's innings in Hyderabad and Nathan Lyon having been axed to work on some technical issues after the first Test.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by zenboomerang on (March 12, 2013, 4:25 GMT)

Its all a bit academic now about the pitch as we have a very limited bowling squad - 2 seamers & 2 spinners - with 2 allrounders... Moises will get a start as for nothing else he keeps one end tight & may contribute much needed runs... So that leaves Doherty as a likely starter with Lyon/Maxwell fighting for the last position... Smith will have to come it at no.5 as Watto's replacement... We'll just have to make do with what we've got...

Posted by   on (March 11, 2013, 2:05 GMT)

One thing I don't understand about you Aussies is your team selectors. Can someone explain to me why Simon Katich was dropped? Have you found a better opening batsman yet?

Posted by Meety on (March 11, 2013, 1:33 GMT)

@ygkd on (March 10, 2013, 21:29 GMT) - I think of the players you named, only the first 3 have been treated unfairly - possibly throw in DHussey as well. I do believe that the India tour has NOT been given the due thought process required, they have not thought it out properly. I don't like Oz losing anything but given the greatest cricket team ever assembled struggled in India, I think these bys shouldn't be castigated too much. I do believe that Cowan should NOT of been selected for the tour of India, as he now really should be dropped, but I believe he would do well in England. We need to pick sides specifically for India, & I think DHussey would of been a good one off selection (despite crud Shield form) - which clearly doesn't always mean much to the NSP (Doherty as an example). I fully believe that Rogers must now be included in the tour squad & given first crack at the Poms.

Posted by Wefinishthis on (March 11, 2013, 0:18 GMT)

ygkd - Agree completely, throw D.Hussey in that list too. Nampally - You should look the stats up first. 'haus took just 6 wickets in 4 innings at an appallingly bad average of 43.5. He is not accurate at all and is in fact one of the worst test bowlers to play for Australia in recent times and is a large factor in our fall from no.1 and ashes losses. He had an acceptable home series against India, but all of our bowlers played well that series as would anyone that could have been picked. Even a club level bowler could have played well against that touring India side. Haddin is an average wicket keeper and an even worse batsman (not to mention he's past his prime). Wade has already made a higher score than Haddin ever did in India and he's almost scored as many centuries at a higher average as well. Yes Wade's keeping still needs improving, but Haddin's 2 dropped regulation catches off Pattinson in his last series infuriated me. Haddin has NEVER passed 50 in India. He can't play spin.

Posted by TheBigBoodha on (March 10, 2013, 23:26 GMT)

Even you don't beleive that, @SamRay. The conditions on the first session of that test were markedly different from the rest of the game, a little grass, along with high humidity. The humidity dropped to 20% on day 2. That's why the ball was moving around so much off the pitch and in the air during early day 1. If Kumar is so good, why did the Indians barely bowl him in the second innings? Because the pitch was as dead as a doornail for pacers, that's why, and the humidity was low. Warner would have eaten him for lunch.

Posted by TheBigBoodha on (March 10, 2013, 23:18 GMT)

How naive. The pitch preparation policy of the Indians was made very public by the curator after the first test. Why would it suddenly change now? The climatic factors might vary, but what you will get is the extreme end of the naturally occurring conditions. Manufactured for optimal results. Every time.

Posted by ygkd on (March 10, 2013, 21:51 GMT)

In that regard, should we need a South African (apologies if @Beertjie is not a Saffer) to tell us a few home truths? No doubt quite a few Indians also think we've lost the plot. The English certainly do. We have to face facts. We haven't learnt much from our spin cycle and mis-handling of Hauritz, Krejza, White, McGain and all the other spinners. We can't keep picking a keeper on first-dig batting alone. We can't keep rotating pacemen in and out of the Test team, while ignoring the alternative of separation of short- and long-form teams as a resting process. We can't keep picking all-rounders who can't hold a place for either skill. We can't keep pretending number one test spot is close. The process of selection is never easy, yet we shouldn't make it harder than it need be, by sidelining experienced players who haven't done much wrong other than falling out of favour. There have always been such players, but at no time can I remember them ever amounting to a whole alternative XI.

Posted by ygkd on (March 10, 2013, 21:29 GMT)

Australia will probably pick the team for Mohali that they think best for seam and swing. In England. We seem to be so obsessed with the Ashes that we have not given India its due. Now, I couldn't really care less if Australia loses both series to nil. But I do believe in speaking up about unfairness. In recent years, the likes of Rogers, Hodge, O'Keefe, Paine, Hartley, McDonald, Starc, Lyon, Ferguson & Khawaja, to name a few, have not been handled well. Others appear to be heading for the same treatment. Cricket is not like soccer. For most soccer players, playing for your country is a sideline. In cricket, it is the main deal. Rotating cricketers in and out, leaving them out for lesser alternatives and dumping them at the wrong time kills their careers. While selecting sides is a difficult and thankless task, selecting an over-sized test squad for India with only one keeper, and that probably the least proficient state gloveman in the land, does not engender a sense of confidence.

Posted by S.Anand on (March 10, 2013, 21:27 GMT)

India should not be complacent after their 2 wins. They should not show anything like lazyness or fatigue on the field as the Australians will be really hard and the conditions will suit them. The whole Indian team have to be really tough like the old Australian team or the current English team. I know that it is not very easy to win the next 2 matches but you have to be mentally and physically strong to have a clean sweep. Micheal Clarke & co will defintely bounce back to settle the score but do your hard work than the first 2 matches and go extra mile to achieve the same result..all the best to both teams..

Posted by Jaffa79 on (March 10, 2013, 21:25 GMT)

If Hughes and Cowan play, it will be proof that they have photos of Micky Arthur naked or something similar. They haven't got the talent, technique or guts for Test cricket.

Posted by   on (March 10, 2013, 20:44 GMT)

The pitch will be dry and will spin, but Australia should play the team that they want to take into the first test against England. This will give that 11 a chance to gel prior to the Ashes. As nice as it would be to win in India, the reality is that this series is just a warm up to the main event later in the year.

Posted by   on (March 10, 2013, 20:20 GMT)

How about try a 2nd 11 Rogers, Ferguson, Doolan, Burns, Bailey, Paine, Cutting, Coulter-Nile, Harris, Agar, O'Keefe (Ahmed when qualified)

Posted by gamespiritfirst on (March 10, 2013, 17:55 GMT)

do people think that england batting order was that much greater than aus. no,it was just the character shown by them.cook throughout the series,one innings by kp, trott hadnt done anything.they clicked as a unit just and just in character. thats what aus need . just fight till the last drop

Posted by loudmouth on (March 10, 2013, 17:50 GMT)

Hope. That's what Australia have for somehow clawing back this series. Hope. Not a plan to negate the spinners or a plan to take 20 wickets - hope. Good luck with that 4 - 0 guys.

Posted by popcorn on (March 10, 2013, 17:08 GMT)

This is the end of the road for Phil Hughes,and rightly so.Too much pampering, too much of "hope over experience" letting us down EVERY TIME, except in Siouth Africa.Time to give the patient Usman Khawaja his rightful due. He impressed at Number 3 against England in The Ashes when Ponting was injured, but was shunted about to Number 6 too thereafter, not giving him the postion he is best at - top of the order. Warner, Cowan, Khawaja, Watson, Clarke - he has scored his BEST Runs at this position so let us not spoil it - Wade or Haddin, Heneriques, Johnson, Siddle,Pattinson, Lyon - welcome back. Even if Shane Watson is a dummy in the field not bowling, he can bat well at Number 4 and get back to bowling after the Team returns to Australia,and prepare for bowling duties in The Ashes series in England.

Posted by Nampally on (March 10, 2013, 15:26 GMT)

I wonder what ever happened to Hillfenhaus, the best Aussie paceman during the Indian tour of Australia? He was so accurate & dominant bowler that this team without their main wicket taker, is not a winning one. Hillfenhaus & Pattinson along with Johnson should have been the pacers whilst Lyon & Doherty/O'Keefe should have bee the spinners. Even if Mohali wkt. is pace friendly, the OZ team does not have their ace seamer in the side. Hillfenhaus was the guy who took critical wkts. even in Australia. If Hillfenhaus is brought back along with Haddin, the Aussies can still make a fight of this series.

Posted by SamRoy on (March 10, 2013, 14:13 GMT)

Problem with not having pace and bounce is that no edges carry to slips. Australian fast bowlers (barring Pattinson and very occasionally Starc) are just not skilled enough with ball to take wickets only via lbws and bowleds. Remember in just his second test B. Kumar outbowled every Australian seamer even though he bowls at Henriques pace (130 kph). He should have taken 5 wickets but the drops of Kohli and Dhoni didn't let that happen.

Posted by Big_Maxy_Walker on (March 10, 2013, 14:06 GMT)

It certainly is a prayer for pace that will not come true. the indian curators will definitely make a spin friendly pitch. they would be stupid not to, and so far they have a great job. Australia just need to pick players in the roles they specialize in eg openers are openers, not no 3 or 4. all rounders are not good enough if they cant make the team based souly on their batting or bowling. I like for the ashes. warner, Watson, khawaja, doolan, Clarke, bailey, paine, okeefe/ahmed/agar, starc, pattinson and bird(he would be great in English conditions). no haddins or hilfys, or cowans, too old had their chance.

Posted by blink182alex on (March 10, 2013, 13:52 GMT)

@ Feming_Mitch, i'm pretty sure your only allowed to pick 11 players in a test match.

We really don't know how to play in these conditions, it will be very important for us to not go into the ashes with a 4-0 loss next to our name, if we can avoid defeat in the next 2 tests then at least we'll have something to work with.

My team for 3rd test from this squad:

1. Cowan 2. Warner 3. Clarke 4. Watson 5. Khawaja 6. Wade/Haddin 7. Henriques 8. Johnson 9. Pattinson 10. Lyon 11. Doherty

Posted by gsingh7 on (March 10, 2013, 13:10 GMT)

what a load of bull. mohali is one of the pitches where scoring runs is as tough as taking honey out of beehive . now curator have relaid pitches last month for suiting indian spinners. match might not reach day 5. all india need is post 450 plus and series is won with massive rating points. india will become 3 or even 2 ranked test side depending on final results of series

Posted by TVicky on (March 10, 2013, 12:29 GMT)

It might sound strange but I think Australia should try to get Brad Hogg to play in Test matches for may be a couple of years and in the mean while they can work on grooming their young spinners for the future.

Posted by   on (March 10, 2013, 12:26 GMT)

I feel sorry/sad for Katich and Hauritz there :/ And frustrated when Australia struggled on home soil against other teams

Posted by Beertjie on (March 10, 2013, 11:51 GMT)

Best hope is to recall Starc and Lyon and ensure the former bowls over the wicket creating footmarks for Lyon tpo bowl into. With Johnson doing likewise and Pattinson using the bounce Oz might take 20 wickets. That may not be enough unless Clarke gets batting support. Where? Will Ashwin not be devastating? Hope Haddin can replace Wade for the remaining tests. He's no answer to the wicketkeeping woes, but he's better at standing up than Wade. If Paine gets more runs in the last Shield game he'd be my number one pick for the Ashes. Trying to balace Wade the run-scorer against Wade the error-maker is part of the plugging the holes in the Titanic thinking characteristic of the NSP. Clueless on so many things, clutching at straws, glossing the failures with talk of gaining experience, etc. Performance (whether behind the stumps keeping to spinners) or scoring runs/taking wickets in Shield should be the criterion. Not whether some people like/don't like you, e.g. Rogers and SO'K!

Posted by Barnesy4444 on (March 10, 2013, 11:48 GMT)

Leave Hughes there if there is any pace in this pitch. This bloke will be a matchwinner, he's not the first young Aussie to struggle agsainst Indian spin on their own pitches. He will plunder their medium pacers, much more than Cowan could.

Posted by Arrow011 on (March 10, 2013, 10:51 GMT)

Australia is praying for pacy pitch, this shows they are incapable of playing spin nor do they have a quality spinner to challenge India. How can they even dream of becoming World No.1 test team? I still think their best spinner is the captain Micheal Clarke himself, he is making grave mistake by playing Doherty & Maxwell. The very fact you are including domestic 20-20 bits & pieces player like Maxwell in a test 11 shows the cricketing talent in Australia has hit rock bottom. 4-0 Loss is inevitable.

Posted by   on (March 10, 2013, 8:54 GMT)

Reminds me of a line from "Battle of Britain" where the minister says to Dowding- "I see. So I tell the cabinet, that you're trusting in radar and praying to God, is that right?" and Dowding replies "more accurately the other way round. Trusting in god and praying for radar." Australia are praying that pace will work in the next test, and India will make sure that the pitch doesn't have any bounce.

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (March 10, 2013, 7:28 GMT)

The series is gone so it is time to experiment. Australia have no chance of turning it around this much - if nothing else, the players are depressed over how badly they have been beaten. Time to go in with all of the players who are yet to play in the tour, to give them experience, and only keep those who have been really performing. My XI: Warner, Khawaja, Smith, Clarke, Henriques, Maxwell, Wade, Johnson, Starc, Doherty, Lyon. Only players to perform so far are Clarke, Henriques, Wade and to a lesser extent Maxwell, Doherty and Lyon. The others are there for their experience. They can't do any worse.

Posted by Thefakebook on (March 10, 2013, 7:26 GMT)

This the best chance OZs got of winning one Test in india if they some how loose this test then 4-0 no way out folks.

Posted by KhanMitch on (March 10, 2013, 7:19 GMT)

If this pitch has pace then we will win. If its anything like our pitches at home then go with all out pace attack - Cowan, Watson, Warner, Khawaja,Clarke, Watson, Wade, Henriques, Siddle, Pattinson, Starc, Johnson.

Posted by Mitty2 on (March 10, 2013, 7:17 GMT)

Bah. Like india would make any pitch with an inkling of moisture in it, it will be a dry, ugly turner like the others.

With all the obvious selection mistakes plus the precedent set by england, and certain failiures from particular players, if this exact team is not chosen; (batting list doesn't need to be accurate, but it's my personal preference) i will change teams and bandwagon South Africa:

1. Cowan 2. Warner 3. Khawaja 4. Clarke 5. Watson 6. Henriques 7. Wade 8. Johnson 9. Pattinson 10. Lyon 11. Doherty

People who say to omit cowan are forgetting that he's part of the most successful opening partnership of test cricket for the last year, and that he's been the best performed behind henriques and clarke.

Johnson to replace siddle based on indian records. Khawaja would be a perfect number three in all conditions, needs faith. Hughes needs to focus on the ashes. Doherty can supplement lyon by being economical, all though i'd prefer o'keefe by ten times over. Watto's last chance.

Posted by   on (March 10, 2013, 7:15 GMT)

Oz Team changes - Play Mitch J, Drop 1 Mn USD Ind Team changes - Dhawan, Ojha In | Enuf of Bhaj

Posted by   on (March 10, 2013, 7:13 GMT)

Pace or not.. its gonna be a cracker for sure !! looking forward to it.

Posted by Paul_Rampley on (March 10, 2013, 7:00 GMT)

This is fantastic news, pace will help us and allow the teams to be better matched. If this is the case then we can go with 3 pace bowlers and 1 spinner and have something like Cowan, Warner, Watson, Clarke, KHawaja, Wade(Assuming he is fit), Henriques, Siddle, Pattinson, Starc, Lyon

Posted by   on (March 10, 2013, 6:35 GMT)

Oz should hope for win not for pace. I feel that if there is some pace and bounce on the wicket at Mohali, the game will take an interesting turn and twist and will be an exciting match like IndvsPak semifinal in World Cup 11

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
Tour Results
India v Australia at Delhi - Mar 22-24, 2013
India won by 6 wickets
India v Australia at Mohali - Mar 14-18, 2013
India won by 6 wickets
India v Australia at Hyderabad (Deccan) - Mar 2-5, 2013
India won by an innings and 135 runs
India v Australia at Chennai - Feb 22-26, 2013
India won by 8 wickets
India A v Australians at Chennai - Feb 16-18, 2013
Match drawn
More results »
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