Chennai, Feb. 25 -- Facing a deficit of 192, Australia were struggling at 121 for four. At one end, their best player of spin, skipper Michael Clarke, was taking the fight to the India bowlers, reaching a fluent 29. Number 6 Matthew Wade, who is in the team as much for his batting ability as keeping skills, was needed to provide support to the senior pro if his team had to make a fight of it.
Surprisingly, Wade took on Harbhajan Singh with a presumptuous sweep shot and was bowled. It wasn't an instinctive shot as it looked. It's the game-plan with which the Australians are looking to negotiate the challenge posed by the India slow bowlers on spin-friendly wickets.
The India think-tank isn't surprised. They expected this strategy from Clarke's men -- aggression is their natural playing style - and like in the first Test, the home team will be looking to play on their patience through this series.
It's the difference between how the England batsmen successfully approached their contests against India. After the first innings failure in the first Test at Ahmedabad, Alastair Cook & Co quickly reassessed their game-plan, understanding that apart from the use of feet, patience would be a quality needed in abundance on subcontinent wickets.
"Australian have this ego. They try to play more positively. If they have played three-four maiden overs, they try to be aggressive, so that they don't come under pressure," observed left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja, when asked the difference between England and Australia batsmen's approach.
On a turning track, it's not easy to attack, said Jadeja. "This wicket has been turning through the match, and we've bowled well. Ashwin has bowled well, Harbhajan has bowled well. Everyone has played their role, whenever they've got to bowl."
These are playing surfaces where a new batsman finds it tough to settle down, hence, the need to carry on once you get yourself in. In the first Test, it has not happened for Australia. Starts have been frittered away. In the first innings David Warner threw it away after reaching fifty and in the second, only Phillip Hughes and Clarke can claim they were done in by unplayable deliveries, the rest were guilty of squandering starts.
The best example was debutant Moises Henriques. During his defiant unbeaten 75, he showed that this India bowling attack can look devoid of ideas when challenged with patience and technique. The batting of the Portugal import is the only silver-lining in Australia's poor second essay.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.