It has been a few days since Australia were battered and bruised by the Indians at Hyderabad. And, a few more days are left before the two teams lock horns again, at Mohali on March 14. The long break might well have come as a blessing in disguise for the Aussies, for they can remain away from the limelight –the media glare -- for some time. It will give them time to regroup and ponder on aspects of the game where they can improve. Of course, their performance can improve only if the senior players in the side can put their hand up and deliver. We list down a few names from whom Australia would expect a lot in the next two Tests.
Shane Watson: That Watson cannot bowl due to injury issues is a definite handicap for the visitors, but he has still be retained in the eleven considering his experience and prowess with the bat, something which hasn’t been on show in the first two Tests. His scores so far read 28, 17,23 and 9. Watson is a quality batsman not doubt, but these numbers don’t augur well for the Aussies. Australian cricket has invested a lot in him, and he is now among the senior-most member of the squad. It is crucial his experience reflects in his performance in the next two Tests.
David Warner: Being the senior opener, there are a lot of hopes from Warner, especially considering India’s weak pace bowling attack. Per se, he hasn’t looked uncomfortable, but like in Watson’s case, the big scores have been missing, which is so important in Indian conditions. Post his half-century in the first innings, his scores read 23, 6 and 26. Australia need a lot more out of Warner in view of the exit of Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey.
Peter Siddle: Pacers aren’t expected to play a huge part in Indian conditions, but being the most experienced of the fast bowling lot, Australia would be keen to see Siddle striking more often. He has been overshadowed by the much pacier James Pattinson so far, and has only picked up two wickets in three innings so far. Siddle has played in India before; in fact he made his debut here. So, it is important from Australia’s point of view that he uses the knowledge to his advantage to try and help the visitors claw back into the series.
Possible changes to the playing XI
Usman Khawaja for Phillip Hughes: The left-handed Hughes has looked completely bamboozled by India’s spinners so far, just like so many Indian youngsters have felt like fish out of water in Aussie environs. It is unfair to assess Hughes so quickly, but Australia cannot afford someone who has scored only 25 runs in the series so far, at number three. Khawaja may not succeed either, but Australia ought to try him out.
Nathan Lyon for Xavier Doherty: Although neither has managed to trouble the Indians too much, Lyon has looked the more effective of the two frontline spinners, and bringing him back gives Australia a better chance of doing well with the ball, and overall.
--By A Cricket Analyst