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March 11, 2013
David Warner believes if Michael Clarke moves up from No. 5, it will add much-needed stability to Australia's top order but he said it would be disappointing if such a change was required because it meant the rest of the batsmen had not been performing adequately. Clarke's batting position for the Mohali Test has not yet been confirmed but after the loss in Hyderabad, where he was out for 91 in the first innings trying to score quickly with the tail, he indicated he would need to promote himself.
Clarke, who has scored more than twice as many runs as any other members of the top six on this tour, could bat at either first drop or second drop given how early India have been using their spinners. So far in the series, Clarke has come in at 126 for 3, 65 for 3, 57 for 3 and 75 for 3, and although the conditions have played a part in those low scores, three-down for very few has become an all-too-familiar sight on Australia's scorecard in recent years.
"I just think it will stabilise us a lot, instead of losing three wickets we might only lose one wicket and rotate the strike more," Warner said. "I don't think it is necessarily about having Michael at three; it is about us, the top four, to knuckling down and scoring runs, that's the main issue. If we can do our job right there is no reason to reshuffle the order."
Warner started the series with a scratchy half-century in the first innings in Chennai and since then has had little impact, despite making a couple of starts and reaching the 20s. In the second innings in Hyderabad he was bowled around his legs trying to sweep the first ball he faced from R Ashwin over the wicket and it was a shot that frustrated the coach Mickey Arthur, who had that morning instilled in the team the need to avoid cross-bat shots.
Warner could have spent some time adjusting to Ashwin's new line and perhaps even kicked the ball away given that it was pitching outside leg stump and he could not be lbw. Another option would have been to flick the ball through midwicket but that would have carried the risk of a leading edge. Warner said in hindsight his best play would have been to come down the pitch and reach the ball on the full.
"If you're pushing a ball through midwicket against the turn you could get a leading edge and get caught at slip," Warner said. "I think that ball, when I look back at it, if I took the stride down the wicket, I could have got to it on the full. If I had a second line of defence I wouldn't have got bowled. They're the things that you look at and the decisions that you make at the time.
"I saw the ball drift late. What happens if you [try to pad it away and] miss it? It drifted at the last minute. If you go to pad those away you're still leaving a gap between your legs, unless you're guarding the stumps like a castle."
Australia enter the Mohali Test, which starts on Thursday, needing a victory to keep the series and their chances of retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy alive after going down 2-0 in Chennai and Hyderabad. The innings loss inside three and a half days in the second Test led the former Indian captain Dilip Vengsarkar to ponder in a newspaper column whether this was the worst Australian team ever to tour India, but Warner said it was important to remember that historically teams have struggled in the conditions.
"We've won one tour [in the last 40 years]," Warner said. "Four out of the 16 blokes who are here have played Test-match cricket here [before]. We're doing pretty well to put up a fight at least. We've had the best of conditions in both the first innings, that's no excuse. But in the second innings with the ball turning, it has been tough for us because we aren't used to the conditions.
"In the first innings there's no excuse, we're supposed to be scoring well into high-300s, early-400s. We've got the capabilities of doing that. Hopefully in the next two Test matches we can not only prove everyone wrong but prove to ourselves that we're good enough. We've got the right team and the right balance to do that."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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