Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli have made the difference, says Justin Langer
Justin Langer lamented lack of world-class batsmen in the current Australian line-up and pointed out that Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara have been the difference for the visitors in the ongoing Test series.
“At this stage, the difference in the series is Pujara and Kohli, if we’re frank. Pujara averages 53, and Kohli has averaged 46 and got a duck in the second innings. The lesson we learn from that is they just absorbed all our pressure,” the Australia head coach said on Monday.
“It’s the art of batting, isn’t it? It’s about absorbing pressure. You’ve got so much time in Test cricket, and I guess in the (T20) world we live in, everything is so instant and so quick with all the talking about strike rates.
“Our guys are learning that, or hopefully they’re learning that. If they don’t, we’ll keep having performances like we’re having,” he said.
Langer blamed the first innings batting disaster — 151 all out — for Australia’s defeat in the third Test at the MCG. “It was a really tough Test match.
“I’ve said from Day I that it’s going to be a real arm wrestle the Test series and it feels like that. It has been tough, we probably got the worst of the conditions in this Test match and our first innings batting particularly was not up to the work we put into it.
“We feel disappointed and tired, but we are getting ready to refresh and get ready for the fourth one,” he added.
Defeat in Melbourne has opened up old wounds for Australia who are now obviously struggling in the absence of David Warner and Steve Smith. They have various points to ponder over, including the form of opener Aaron Finch as well as the middle-order composition with both Peter Handscomb and Mitchell Marsh out of form.
Langer said the relative inexperience of the Australian batting line-up was starting to show as the series heads towards its culmination. “He (Finch) is having a bit of a lean run of it, although he has got a couple of 50s.
“He got a 100-run partnership one Test match ago and that set up the whole Test match for us. Finch is a really good player and he is working harder probably than he has ever worked.
“He has got to somehow recharge his batteries over and over again. It is a great challenge for him at the moment and he will be better, I think,” said Langer.
“We have just got to make sure we stay in this contest and be great to have a win at the end of it. India have come here determined to win this series. We know that and we see that in everything they have done since Day I.
“It would be nice for us to send them home drawing the series, not winning it,” Langer added.
Langer, meanwhile, said he felt like “a director of a soap opera” as debate around the future of Smith and Warner grew this past week.
Asked about the recent interviews of Smith and Cameron Bancroft, Langer said: “It’s all just part of the soap opera we’re in every day. I feel like a director of a soap opera at the moment, I honestly do…
“That was just another distraction last week. There are different ways you can look at those interviews. It’s just another part of our day-to-day job. We’re in touch with the boys all the time, as there’s a really good process we’re going to go through to get the boys back into the team.
“It was great to see Cameron playing last night (in BBL). It’s part of the soap opera.”