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Test series: Mindset, not sweep, key to Australia’s revival

Experts find fault in visitors’ game plan

Sayak Banerjee Calcutta Published 13.02.23, 04:13 AM
Alex Carey attempts a reverse sweep during the Nagpur Test.

Alex Carey attempts a reverse sweep during the Nagpur Test. PTI picture

Australia’s struggle against spin in India is nothing new. Even those touring sides led by Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting in the late 90s till 2010 with legends in their line-up faced the music against the likes of Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh.

However, in spite of their weaknesses, the Tests against India would at least last till the fifth day on most occasions.


The Michael Clarke-led side, though, suffered a 4-0 thrashing when it toured India in early 2013 with the fourth and final Test in New Delhi over in three days, like the just-concluded game in Nagpur.

But in Nagpur last week, the current Australian team’s batting was embarrassing, almost just as South Africa were on their recent tour Down Under.

Given the quality, at least on paper, of this Australian batting group, such an abject surrender was least expected, particularly after they won the toss and elected to bat on a pitch which by no means could be called a dustbowl or “doctored”.

“I have been observing (visiting) Australian teams for quite some time, but this was a very, very poor form of batsmanship from the current side,” former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar told The Telegraph on Sunday.

“Playing just one or two types of shots to counter spin isn’t the way. You need to show proper application, which they lacked, and also make use of your footwork,” Vengsarkar, a former chief selector who is currently a member of the BCCI apex council, stated.

In the first innings in Nagpur, Alex Carey, who was well set, perished trying to play one reverse sweep too many off Ravichandran Ashwin’s bowling. Peter Handscomb attempted a sweep off a delivery from Ravindra Jadeja and was trapped lbw.

In other words, the sweep/ reverse sweep cannot be the only option to counter spin. “The sweep definitely is one good option but not the only one,” agreed former India opener Arun Lal.

“The problem with most of these visiting teams is in their minds as they expect every wicket in India to be a square turner. But the challenge is when some balls don’t spin much while some keep straight. On such pitches, batsmen need to use their feet and find the gaps,” Lal added.

“Get as much as possible closer to the pitch of the ball, try to get on top of the ball and play with the spin.

“You can’t just stay on the back foot and keep playing dot balls against spinners,” former keeper-batter Nayan Mongia, who hit 152 in a one-off Test against Australia on a turning Kotla track back in October 1996, advised.

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