After a tiring first Test Australia enter the second game with a few significant creaks and another new player in Victoria's Peter Siddle. While the teams still debate who came out on top following the opening draw, one thing that isn't in doubt is some major and minor concerns for the tourists.
The main problem is they have lost fast bowler Stuart Clark to a right elbow injury after he failed a fitness test on Thursday. He had an injection in the arm but it did not help and Siddle's entry means Australia will have four players - Shane Watson, Brad Haddin, Cameron White and Siddle - who have played fewer than five Tests.
Despite the setbacks, Ponting is confident of a strong showing. "There was a lot made of the inexperience factor coming here, but all those inexperienced guys showed they are more than capable of performing well at international level," Ponting said. "There's no doubt it's easier for us guys who have played a bit, particularly in this part of the world."
Ponting expects a "hard slog" on a pitch that he thinks will suit India's spinners and he has been impressed with the efforts of Siddle on tour. Siddle is 23 and has 43 wickets in only 12 first-class appearances, winning a spot ahead of the left-armer Doug Bollinger.
"It's disappointing for Stuart," Siddle said, "but I'm really pleased to be called up for my country and to get the chance to the wear the baggy green. I'm looking forward to the challenge of bowling to the top order."
Ponting said Siddle was a "no-nonsense guy and a no-nonsense sort of bowler". "He's got good pace and a good presence," Ponting said. "He will keep running in for you. He bowled beautifully in the nets [on Wednesday] and I just like the way he goes about it."
Ponting is not in danger of missing the match, but he is taking anti-inflammatory tablets to help ease a nagging wrist complaint following surgery after the West Indies series. Australia also have a couple of underperforming batsmen in Hayden and Clarke, who made 30 runs between them in the first Test.
|"The spinners took only 3 for 350 in the game," Ponting said, "showing we can manage their bowlers in these conditions."|
Both have been spending a long time batting at training this week trying to iron out the problems. Hayden is returning from a heel injury that ruled him out of the West Indies series while Clarke had a stomach problem in the lead-up to Bangalore.
"It's about how you come back and respond, and Matthew was in the nets for an hour-and-a-half yesterday working on different things, making sure he got his volume of work done," Ponting said. "Michael Clarke was the same, so it's good to see the guys who missed out in the Test are taking it upon themselves to get stuck in and get their batting work up."
India are waiting on Anil Kumble's fitness and Australia have been boosted by his poor form in Bangalore and their strong showing against him and Harbhajan Singh. "The spinners took only 3 for 350 in the game," Ponting said, "showing we can manage their bowlers in these conditions."
The Mohali pitch spent time under the covers again on Thursday morning due to light rain, but despite the extra moisture Ponting does not expect it to help the fast bowlers. "I don't think there's going to be much assistance for the quicks at all," he said. "I saw the groundsman interviewed on TV and he said he made the wicket to suit their spinners. It could be a long, hard slog for us in the field, but we're well equipped to cope with these conditions, as we have in the past."