Australia v India: Hosts' top order must attack and other key tactics

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Shaun Marsh.

Australia have to do all the hard work after falling 1-0 behind in Adelaide. The hosts put up a good fight in the opening Test but the Indians remained in control of most sessions in the first Test, which means Australia will have to raise their game considerably to draw level in the second Test in Perth.

The pitch at the new Perth Stadium is a bit of a mystery but all reports suggest one of the fastest surfaces in Australia in recent times will be on offer.

Here we look at key tactics for Australia as they aim to level the series.

TOP ORDER MUST ATTACK

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Australia’s lower middle order has proven to be more than capable of scoring handy runs. In Adelaide, after being 187-7 chasing 323, the Aussies came within 31 runs of a famous win. Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja and Peter Handscomb had a quiet match and if they can score at a fair clip in Perth the Indians will feel the pressure because the Aussie tail will wag.

In Adelaide, Australia were 120-5 and 111-5 after batting at barely two runs an over. If the top order can ensure a total closer to 200 by the time the fifth or sixth wicket falls, the hosts can aim for 300. They should look to play more cut and pull shots instead of drives as India will get the ball to move.

CROWD THE BAT WHEN LYON BOWLS

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Nathan Lyon showed he is a master on Australian pitches. The moment Tim Paine got fielders close in on the off and on-side, Lyon got Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara to glove the ball to short leg. The overspin and extra bounce that Lyon gets will get accentuated and the tendency of almost all Indian batsmen to push at the full and wide deliveries from Lyon means the fielders on the leg side will remain interested.

India have shown they want to attack Lyon and score as many runs as possible off him, even if they lose wickets to the offie. It’s going to be a great hunt.

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Australia coach Justin Langer hopes for a fiery pitch in Perth

Sudhir Gupta 12/12/2018
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Australian coach Justin Langer (c).

Australia coach Justin Langer is hoping for a pacey wicket at the new Perth Stadium for the second Test as the hosts aim to level the Test series against India.

Australia are looking to hit back after their 31-run defeat in Adelaide and a quick surface in Perth should be music to the ears of Australian quicks. However, Langer is not certain about the surface in Perth.

It’s the first Test at the new stadium where just one first-class game has been played.

“I’m really fascinated and can’t wait to see what the wicket brings,” Langer was quoted as saying by AFP. “There’s only been one four-day game in its history.

“I went and watched a bit of the New South Wales versus Western Australia game – there was certainly some pace and bounce there. We’ve also seen some pace and bounce in it during the one-dayers and T20 game.”

But the former opener said both teams will know how the drop-in pitch behaves only when the Test begins on Friday.

“Time will tell what the wicket brings… If we can get (WACA-style pace and bounce) it’d be a great thing for Test cricket,” Langer said.

Langer denied reports that captain and wicketkeeper Tim Paine could miss the Test after a Mohammed Shami delivery in Adelaide smashed into his right index finger.

“Paine is the toughest pretty boy I’ve seen in my life,” he said. “Even if it was snapped in about four places he’d still be right. He’s absolutely fine. He’s obviously had issues with it before but he’s 100 percent ready to go.”

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Bowlers' effort and Finch's poor form among hits and misses for Australia

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Mitchell Starc (r) and Pat Cummins.

Australia gave it their all in the first Test against India and almost pulled off a stunning win in Adelaide. The hosts lost the match by 31 runs, which means margins were small.

As Tim Paine’s Aussies move to Perth for the second Test, we take a look at the hits and misses for the Australian team from the opening encounter.

HITS

Bowlers lead the way

Not only were Australia’s bowlers on the money throughout the match, they showed the top order batsmen how to hang around and score ‘brave’ runs.

Quicks Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and off-spinner Nathan Lyon were exemplary with the ball and in the second innings, with the team 187-7, didn’t throw in the towel. Cummins (28), Starc (28), Lyon (38) and Hazlewood (13) almost took the hosts past the finish line, which should give Australia hope for the remaining matches.

Marsh finds form

Shaun Marsh.

Shaun Marsh.

Shaun Marsh had registered six consecutive single digit scores in Tests and patience was running thin among Australian fans. But when the chips were down, Shaun showed why the Australian management rates him so highly. He fought his way to 60 on the final day as he took the Aussies closer to the 323-run target. If Shaun had hung around for 45 minutes more, the Aussies could have won.

MISSES

Finch’s lack of confidence

Aaron Finch at the top of the order looked completely out of place. He struggled to put bat to ball against Ishant Sharma and was lucky to not bag a pair, with a no-ball allowing him to score 11 before he walked off to a caught behind decision despite not nicking it. A forgettable match and Australia will almost certainly drop him if he doesn’t fire in Perth.

Pujara reprieve

In the first innings, Cheteshwar Pujara was batting on 89 when he edged Josh Hazlewood behind. But the Aussies didn’t appeal with any conviction and the batsman was let off. He added 34 more runs, which was more than the defeat margin.

Drop catches, wickets of no-balls and DRS calls are all part of the game. But not spotting a snick can’t be excused, especially since the Adelaide Oval was not even half full on the opening day.

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