2nd October 2008
The action starts today finally. First day of the practice match between Board President XI. Yuvraj the skipper won the toss and elected to bat. The start given by Chopra and Jaffer was solid. With Lee being the only bowler who looked threatening. However they all saw off the first spells. Both fell when set for a big score. Chopra I must say is very very unlucky being given out Lbw when replays showed the decision could have gone the other way. Badrniath couldn’t do much. Yuvraj played a couple of delightful strokes but flattered to deceive and got out strangely. Indecisive in going for the pull he got out softly. They were 126/4.
A collapse round the corner. Rohit Sharma & Virat Kohli just showed why they are so highly talked about. Not only did they both score hundreds, but the way they dominated the bowling and the pace at which they got the runs would surprise Ricky Ponting. Albeit they were helped by Krejza the new off spinner. Hope he can bowl more consistent than this. Because if he bowls like what he did yesterday than Ponting has his hands full. At the end of the days play both Kohli and Rohit were out for 105. Staking claims for a test spot and Badrinath would be under pressure as evidently both are more talented.
However both have played very little first class cricket, and for them it would be very good if they can keep playing first class cricket a little more and keep scoring runs. The pressure of runs will force them in the team and that is what should happen. They shouldn’t have been given a berth just on talent but on weight of runs. Let them earn their spots.
For Ponting I must say this was an eye opener. Last time when they won they set defensive fields and frustrated the Indian batsmen. Ponting has said in his interviews that they would use similar tactics. Well well, what Ponting forgets is that last time the bowling attack was a little more different. Mcgrath, Gillespie, Kasprowicz & Warne. Now these bowlers were very very consistent in line & length. Bowling maidens was their forte. They would be at the spot for hours and they learnt that over the years touring the subcontinent as even they were taken to the cleaners on earlier tours.
Now lets compare the current bowlers, Lee is their spearhead but every one will agree that as good as he has been over the last few months he has never been the tightest of bowlers. He does pick wickets but he gives runs away. Clark is probably their morst consistent bowler. But this is his first trip here so lets see how he goes. The challenge for fast bowlers in the subcontinent is to bowl in 40 degrees heat with 80% humidity. The true test of fitness for the fast bowlers. That’s why Dravid at 6 is necessary you don’t want the line up of batting to get bogged down. Laxman at 6 is necessary precisely for that reason on subcontinent pitches, you need to keep scoring fluently to not let pressue build up. We all have seen the Aussies in 2001 & the ashes 2005 when Australians are made to bleed runs and they are not able to control the flow of runs they are under most pressure. They have had wonderful bowlers who did not give runs and kept the pressure up. But can the new attack match up will be interesting to see. I doubt frankly.
The biggest factor in the last series was Warnie, he was the one who was bowling tight from one end giving the fast bowlers at the other end to be rotated and enough time to rest. From what ever was evident yesterday it seems Krejza is not an answer to Warnie and I won’t be surprised if they field a 4 pronged seam attack and Shane Watson the allrounder being the fifth seamer attack. Interestingly Aussies fielded Simon Katich as the opener preferring him over Phil Jaques. Also more interestingly he didn’t bowl throughout the day. Is there some injury we don’t know or is he the surprise for the first test match???
The spin cupboard of Australia is bare and its evident. In this heat bowling 90 overs a day is hard work, that is the reason why you need spinners in your line up that would either take wickets or atleast keep one end tight and do the labouring while the fast bowlers can be kept fresh and be rotated from the other end. The last session just showed yesterday how tough it is for bowlers on the subcontinent.
However this is what Ponting would have wanted for an eye opener. They will see, learn and analyse and find ways to come out of it. Whether they will be successful or not will be decided after the series ends.