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Australia's plans to train in Nagpur scuppered after ground staff water pitches

Australia had asked the VCA Stadium ground staff if they could leave the centre wicket and training pitches untouched for players to train on Sunday afternoon

Alex Malcolm
Alex Malcolm
12-Feb-2023
Australia's training plans for the day after the Nagpur Test ended have been scuppered after the ground staff at the VCA Stadium watered the centre and practice pitches overnight despite a request from the visitors to use the facilities on Sunday.
Australia's team management asked the VCA ground staff if they could leave the centre wicket and training pitches up in order for players to train on Sunday afternoon. But the ground staff were watering the centre wicket on Saturday night after the team had left the ground. Australia had planned to have an optional session with five players in the squad set to head to the stadium on Sunday afternoon but those plans were cancelled with the practice pitches having been watered too.
ESPNcricinfo contacted the VCA for comment but was simply told both teams would train tomorrow.
The cancellation of training is a blow to Australia as they scramble to find a way to get back into the series with their batters needing to find a method to handle Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin after the pair scythed through the visitors in both innings to bowl them out for 177 and 91.
Head coach Andrew McDonald identified that Australia's batters needed to be more proactive after a host of players got caught on the crease during the second innings collapse.
"We felt as though we probably weren't as proactive as what we needed to be in the extreme conditions," McDonald said on Sunday. "In Galle [last year] we showed that in Test match one [against Sri Lanka] where we were really proactive. And in this instance, we probably weren't and that showed up in the second innings.
"If you stand still and look to defend for long periods of time against that quality spin line-up you've got pretty much a ball with a number on it and unfortunately, we weren't able to get into the method that we wanted to apply.
"We saw very little sweeping which is something that we valued leading in as well. So we'll review why that was the case. And there's no doubt that when you're under extreme pressure like that, and you're behind the game sometimes you narrow in and we need to be more expansive than that.
"I thought Steve Smith summed it up really well after he came off and said we're going to have to be brave, take some risks, take the ball down the ground, push some fielders out and give ourselves the ability to rotate the strike. They were able to crowd us, swarm us and we weren't able to push the fielders back. You look at the way they played, they were able to push the fielders back, they took calculated risks. So you can always learn from the opposition, but you don't want to be them in the same instance as well. We're going to have to do it slightly differently."

'Cameron Green and Mitchell Starc back on the selection table'

Australia are also considering whether to make changes for the second Test with Queensland left-arm spinner Matthew Kuhnemann flying in to join the squad for the second Test in Delhi as Mitchell Swepson flies home for the birth of his first child.
Mitchell Starc is also likely to be available after flying into Delhi yesterday. Cameron Green is pushing to play the second Test but it might be a stretch as continues to recover from his broken finger while Josh Hazlewood remains unavailable due his Achilles issue.
But McDonald was wary of making wholesale changes after one defeat.
"If you feel as though your preparation was good and the way you want to go about it is good then you re-commit to that," McDonald said.
"If you shift and try to change too much that's when you get lost as a touring team. We've seen teams come to Australia and try to do the same. We need to be committed to what we want to achieve.
"Will there be changes? Potentially, we have Green and Starc back on the selection table so that will totally change the balance of how we want to go about things. However, we feel as though when we came here we had a clear vision of how to play, how we want to go about it and we need to reinvest into that.
"We feel as though it can work and the players within the changeroom are very capable for the challenges ahead. We had a slight setback in the first Test match, we got behind in the game. We clearly know where we need to improve. If we improve those areas the margins will narrow very quickly."

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo