Pacers vital on deteriorating track: Clarke
A look at Australia’s playing XI for the first Test and the most probable team that India are expected to field could be anyone’s guess. While the Australians have packed their bowling attack with four fast bowlers, the Indians are all set to play at least three spinners.
For Australia’s captain, Michael Clarke, it’s just the case of both teams playing to their strengths. “I think we’ve both seen the exact same pitch and we both know what conditions we’re in for,” Clarke said when asked about the contrasting bowling combinations of the two teams.
“It’s just that both teams have different strengths. For me it’s no good trying to bat like Damien Martin or Ricky Ponting because that’s not going to help me have success. I’ve got to play the way I play my best cricket and it’s the same with regards to the team.
“It’s no good for us to try and pick the same team as India have. We’re going to try to use our strengths in conditions where we still think fast bowlers will have a part to play,” Clarke said.
Clarke was also confident that despite playing only one specialist spinner, they will not be short in the slow-bowling department if the need arises. “On the other hand, we do have the support of our frontline spinner in Nathan Lyon. David Warner’s been bowling a lot of leg-spinners in the nets and I can bowl some left-arm orthodox spin as well. So, I feel like we can cover all bases,” he said.
Explaining the team’s ploy to trust their fast-bowling strength, Clarke said that despite being tilted towards the spin bowlers, the Chepauk wicket will assist pacers in different ways in form of movement off the surface, uneven bounce and reverse swing.
“When we look at the conditions, it is quite dry and the spin is going to play a part. Over the course of the five days, the wicket will surely deteriorate. When that happens, it spins a lot more, but it also goes up and down a lot more.
“We’re hoping our fast bowlers will be able to execute their skills to get some balls come in quicker than others and some to stay a bit lower than the others. Whether it reverses or not, we’ll still have that natural variation. And if there is reverse swing, we’ve got the ammunition to execute that,” he elucidated.
The Australian captain also claimed that his batsmen were “as prepared as we can be” to take on India’s spinners on what is expected to be a rank turner.
“We’ve trained as hard as we could. We faced a lot of spin bowling in the first two practice games we had. I’m pretty confident that this wicket will spin and I’m also confident that with the preparation that we’ve had in the last 10 days, we’re in a much better position than what we were in before flying out of Australia.”
Clarke, who is one of the best players of spin bowling in the world and by far the best in his team, said that there’s no difference in batting against pace and spin. “Playing spin bowling is no different to playing fast bowling, in my opinion. You need to have a plan and the courage to stick to that plan, whether you’re on zero or 100. Sometimes it works for you and at times it doesn’t. But we’re going to try our best,” he said.
On learning about Harbhajan Singh being on the verge of making his 100th Test appearance, Clarke was delighted and wished him luck on behalf of his team. He also looked forward to having some fierce battles with the off-spinner on the field.
“Firstly, I think that’s a great thing for Harbhajan. He’s been a wonderful player for India for a long time and to play 100 Test matches is a very special achievement,” Clarke said. “So, on behalf of the Australian team, we would like to congratulate him on that.
“I’ve always had a very good relationship with Harbhajan and also had a lot of challenges on the field because he is a very good bowler and you want to test yourself against the best players. I’m sure this Test will be no different and he’s going to be very hard to face.”