Swept away by the spin test, Smith and Co concentrate on orthodox cricket

Indore, Feb 27 (PTI) Ravichandran Ashwin’s enviable record in Test matches at the Holkar Stadium could make the Australian batters rethink their strategy of playing the high-risk sweep shots, which brought about their downfall in the first two games.

Ashwin has 18 wickets in the two Tests he has played at this venue at an average of 12.5 runs.

Australia, who arrived here a week after their second-innings surrender in Delhi, turned up for the net session before their scheduled time.

They were slammed for their tactics against Indian spinners at the Ferozeshah Kotla with half of the side falling to the poorly-executed sweep shots on a slow and low surface.

Having lost the chance to regain the Border-Gavaskar trophy, Australia looked keen to learn from their mistakes in their three-hour-long training session.

Rather than going for the sweep shot, Steve Smith and Co concentrated on front-foot defence against the spinners besides stepping out to hit down the ground.

Smith and Usman Khawaja were the first ones to hit the nets and batted for more than an hour against Nathan Lyon and Matthew Kuhnemann.

One of the best batters against spin in the Australian set-up, Smith’s performances have been underwhelming so far and he will be keen to correct that in the game beginning Wednesday.

Lyon troubled both Khawaja and Smith as the duo looked determined to firm up their defence. Most of the aerial hits came off rookie Kuhnemann.

It was an hour of madness at the Kotla that cost Australia the game despite fully understanding the implications of the sweep shots on those Indian pitches offering low bounce.

They will need to trust their defence a lot more and step out regularly to unsettle Ashwin and Co.

Such was their frame of mind on Monday that Khawaja and Smith returned to the nets for a second stint after all the batters had finished training. This time Khawaja and Alex Carey, who has been dismissed four times playing the same shot with a very low degree of success, concentrated on playing the sweep shot.

Marnus Labuschagne, Travis Head and Peter Handscomb faced off-spinner Murphy and leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson, who has reunited with the squad following the birth of his child.

Handscomb, who has looked the most comfortable against the spinners so far on the tour, came down the pitch every time Murphy and Swepson gave the ball some air.

Head, the most aggressive of the Aussie batters in Delhi, was particularly harsh on Swepson as he slog swept with the spin.

Mitchell Starc bowls full tilt ================= Left-arm pacer Mitchell Starc, who missed the first two Tests due to a finger injury, will replace skipper Pat Cummins in the playing eleven for the third Test with the latter back in Australia to be with his ailing mother.

Starc said he is not 100 per cent fit yet but bowled to Cameron Green for close to an hour and generated good pace. Lance Morris bowling alongside him and beat Green with his pace and movement on multiple occasions.

Green, who also had a bowl later in the session, is set to play his first game of the series after missing the first two Tests due to a finger injury.

With Cummins and David Warner out of reckoning, Green and Starc look like automatic choices to fill the slots.

Source: PTI News


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