Food for thought for Oz ahead of Tests

Chennai, Feb. 18 -- The build-up to the Test series between India and Australia has been quiet so far but things are beginning to heat up. On Sunday, Manoj Tiwary, fresh from a century, fired the first salvo at the Aussies, when he said they lacked the technique to play spin. On Monday, the two spinners justified that.

Jalaj Saxena and Rakesh Dhurv may not be famous in Indian domestic cricket, but the two have instilled fear in Aussie minds against spin.

Offie Saxena and left-armer Dhurv's combined figures of 9 for 112, on a pitch that was a slow turner, has exposed a major chink in the Aussie batting.

Made to fight

In the end, the three-day warm-up game brought more negatives than positives for the visitors. The result may have been a draw but Australia had to fight for it after being forced to follow on.

Resuming the day at 131/4, they were all out for 235 with Dhurv picking 5/51 and Saxena 4/61.

Though Australia's top order put up a better show in the second innings, finishing with 195/3, their confidence has taken a beating. Dhurv summed up their performance. "As far as their batting is concerned, they don't play spinners too well, which benefitted us. The wicket was a slow turner. Their main deficiency was in defence. Often they failed to judge the speed of the deliveries."

Of the 23 wickets that the Aussies lost in the two-practice matches, 22 have been taken by spinners with Parvez Rassol picking up seven in the first game.

Their tentativeness has been palpable, with only Shane Watson and to some extent Ed Cowan looking assured at the crease.

Watson scored his second fifty in the match, 60 off 63 balls, and showed a method that can be useful against the India spinners.

The burly opener attacked the spinners, picking up eight of his nine boundaries off Dhurv. Watson hit four successive fours off Dhruv before he was run out. Cowan too brought up his second fifty in three innings, but got out to a false start, while Phil Hughes continued his struggle against the slower bowlers. Thereafter, Usman Khawaja and Matthew Wade mostly faced part-time spinners to remain unbeaten, but it's hard to say if they were content with the workout.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.

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