Australia in India 2008-09 October 23, 2008

Nielsen tells players to stay calm

Cricinfo staff


Don't panic: Australia were surprised by their heavy defeat in Mohali but Tim Nielsen wants Ricky Ponting and his men to stay focused © Getty Images
 

The Australia coach Tim Nielsen has told his team not to panic after the shock defeat in the second Test in Mohali. Nielsen's outfit has not beaten India in the past four encounters and the 320-run loss was the country's seventh-heaviest in history, but he is confident of a turnaround for the third game in Delhi from next Wednesday.

However, he sent the players off for three days of rest with a clear message. "One thing we just have to be so certain about is that we don't panic," he said. "We have to understand what the right way to go about playing over here is, and keep ourselves controlled and calm enough that we can deliver under the pressure we find ourselves."

Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma have troubled Australia's batsmen regularly throughout the opening two matches and the spinners also caused a lot of problems in Mohali. The major issue for Australia is that no part of their game is firing and the bowlers, particularly Brett Lee, are struggling for impact against the home batsmen.

"The game [in Mohali] didn't go to plan right from the outset," Nielsen said. "We were under immense pressure and in no way able to get back in the game. We understand it's only a week since we played well in Bangalore. If we do the same in Delhi we will be competitive."

The India players spoke of their superiority in the first Test and many supporters in the country believe the team has dumped Australia as the No. 1 unit. Nielsen admitted India were better "over the past five days" but would not concede anything else.

"Our challenge is to ensure the momentum they have gathered does not carry itself through to the next two Tests," he said. "They're a talented side and have great experience, but we showed in Bangalore we can compete and put ourselves in winning positions."

The Delhi curator has promised a pitch that is a present for Anil Kumble, who missed the second game with a shoulder problem. Nielsen said it was important for his team not to obsess over the conditions.

"We have to accept it's not the WACA or the Gabba or Adelaide Oval, and accept it's Delhi," he said. "It's not what we're used to, but it's still a wicket, and we need to execute our skills. It does put a bit of pressure on Anil, coming back from injury to get a present like that. I hope he bowls well."

If the surface is helpful for the slow bowlers it could magnify the problems caused by Australia's lack of a high-quality spinner. Cameron White has been serviceable in his first two Tests without being consistently dangerous, while the offspinner Jason Krejza has been overlooked since suffering harsh punishment in the tour match in Hyderabad.

Krejza was originally picked in the squad ahead of White and might come into calculations if the Delhi pitch looks like offering sharp turn. Steve Waugh, Australia's former captain, said the slow bowling was not the reason for the heavy defeat in Mohali.

"We must be patient with Cameron White," Waugh wrote in the Hindu. "After all, he has just started his career and it's too early to jump to conclusions. However, I was surprised that Beau Casson, who was pretty good in the West Indies, did not make this tour.

"But then, it was decided that leg-spin and a finger-spinner were better options. They picked Jason Krejza because they reckoned he was good enough to play, so it's better to try him out rather than to die wondering."