Key tactics for India: Aussies quicks main threat but play Lyon with caution

Ajit Vijaykumar 09:00 05/12/2018
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Top-ranked India are seen as the favourites in the four-match Test series against Australia which begins in Adelaide on Thursday.

The Virat Kohli-led Indians enter the series confident of registering their first-ever Test series win Down Under as Australia are without the banned duo of Steve Smith and David Warner.

But series defeats in South Africa and England in 2018 mean India will have some doubts in their mind as they take to the field.

Here we take a look at a couple of key tactics for India as they aim to hit the ground running.

PLAY LYON CAUTIOUSLY

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India’s batsmen must have gone through hours of footage of Australian quicks Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood. Everyone knows what they will bowl – fast, short and with movement off the pitch. For the No1 Test team, surviving the pace barrage will be top priority. But equally important will be not giving wickets to off-spinner Nathan Lyon.

The off-spinner was the highest wicket taker on either side – with 23 scalps – when the Aussies won 2-0 at home in 2014/15. The classical off-spinner bowls with a lot of overspin and gets extra bounce. Plus, he bowls outside the off stump, drawing the batsmen out more than say Ravi Ashwin.

India might be tempted to go after Lyon once the quicks are out of the way but they should rather look to play him off the back foot with soft hands and into the on-side to make sure he doesn’t end up with ‘cheap’ wickets. It might be boring but at least until the majority of the Indian batting starts to fire, they should hold back on attacking Lyon.

DON’T BOWL TOO STRAIGHT

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India’s fast bowlers made life difficult for batsmen during the tours of South Africa and England earlier in the year. But the spicy wickets had a lot to do with it. India’s pacers swung and seamed the ball all day across every day of play. That is unprecedented over an eight Test period.

However, the Kookaburra ball and hard Australian pitches are unlikely to aid swing and seam for long, if at all. Bowling full and straight worked brilliantly for Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma – to a degree – earlier in the year but that is unlikely to work Down Under.

Jasprit Bumrah is the only bowler in the team who has the pace and natural length to get the ball to kick off the surface in Australia. The rest of the pacers will have to focus on bowling outside off stump and induce false strokes. Short balls directed at the armpits are another good ploy but those have to be extra effort balls.

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