Left with minimal spin resources after Bryce McGain was ruled out of the tour, Ricky Ponting has said either Jason Krejza or Cameron White will play in the first Test against India in Bangalore. Both are yet to play a Test, and though Krejza gave away 199 runs from 31 wicketless overs against the Board President's XI, Ponting saw it as a "learning curve" for the offspinner.
"Jason was very nervous during the first spell of the game," Ponting said after the tour game in Hyderabad ended in a draw. "I think he improved by the end of his spell in the first innings. He got into good rhythm and used the angles round the wicket very well. We need to work out how to use him best ... the field placements and the way the Indians tend to play him.
"We will have to look at the wicket when we get there [Bangalore] but we think one of those two will be in the side. White offers a lot since he is an allrounder; he is someone who can get a game in our side as a batsman alone. He just toured here with Australia A and did well in the one-dayers." White scored 144 runs at an average of 48 and took eight wickets in five one-dayers, captaining Australia A to a tri-series win against India A and New Zealand A.
In 2004-05, Jason Gillespie, Glenn McGrath and Michael Kasprowicz shared 42 wickets in Australia's conquest of the final frontier and Ponting felt the fast bowlers would need to step up on this tour as well. "The last time we came here we put a lot of pressure on our fast bowlers to execute a certain style of play," he said. "There is no doubt that they are the more experienced bowlers in our side at the moment and we expect them to lead from front and take pressure off from our spinners in this series."
Ponting was satisfied with the performance of Brett Lee, Stuart Clark and Mitchell Johnson in Hyderabad. "Brett Lee is probably a little bit underdone. He got lots of overs here and improved. Stuart Clark is very reliable. Mitchell [Johnson] was the pick of our fast bowlers," he said. "In both innings his line and length has been terrific. He has tested the batsmen; whether they were right- or left-handed and bowled long spells. And we've got Shane Watson who will come into the side and that will give us some good quality medium-pace overs."
The pressure would also be on the top order to put up the runs, Ponting said. "It's important in this series that our batters make big scores. So the pressure is on every single one of us. We like putting ourselves under pressure, pitting our skills against every other player in the world."
Ponting, who averages 12.28 from eight Tests played in India, said he owed his team some runs in India. He made 41 in the first innings and an unbeaten 58 in the second, and hoped the time spent at the crease would hold him in good stead for the Tests. "As everybody knows - it's been spoken a lot here already - my record in India is not as good as it is in other parts of the world. That's where this game was very important for me to get some confidence.
"I am back from an injury; it's always a little hard to get going. To spend some quality time in both innings has been good. I was sort of disappointed to get out in the first innings. I could have got a bit more time under my belt."
Yuvraj Singh, who captained the BP XI, said Australia could make up for their lack of a potent spinner with effective game-plans. "Australia won the last series here and they had their top bowlers then," he said. "They've got a good pace attack but I think they might lack in the spin department. Obviously, the last time they had Shane Warne. They don't have a good spinner at the moment. So if their fast bowlers don't take wickets it's going to be tough for them. At the moment it's pretty even but they always come up with a plan. Last time they played over here they planned really well. So you can't underestimate them."