Mohali, March 10 -- Australia, more used to making their opponents feel lonely even on their home turf, are wobbling on this tour. Thrashed in Chennai and Hyderabad, the longer gap before the third Test has given the players time to take their mind off cricket and then to assess their game in terms of tackling spin, an area where the hosts have left them hopping.
At the half-way mark, Australia have not posed any challenge to India.
The spinners have exploited the visiting batsmen's lack of experience to the hilt with only skipper Michael Clarke, Shane Watson and Mitchell Johnson in the squad having previously played Tests in India.
The Aussies have played other sports, hitting the Chandigarh golf course or playing basketball with some others spending time with family members.
Experts have declared this team as the weakest Australia side to set foot in the sub-continent. But the players are looking to salvage something from a tour gone horribly wrong so far. All-rounder Moises Henriques acknowledged the desperation in the ranks as the Aussies prepare for the third Test.
"This little break has allowed players to work on making sure what their plans are and how to execute them. The message from the team management was basically to stay positive and truthful to our plans. We have to learn from what we haven't done well so far," the all-rounder told reporters after Australia's first training session since the Hyderabad Test, at the PCA Stadium on Sunday.
Unlike the home series against England, where India were outperformed after the first Test, this series is even being seen as a new dawn for Indian cricket.
Skipper MS Dhoni has found a new spring in his stride and Ravichandran Ashwin is looking the potent force he rarely was against England.
The Aussies have paid for their aggression against spin. In Hyderabad, India openers Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara underlined the virtue of patience first up, amassing a 370-run stand.
"It's a different challenge," Henriques said. "Certainly it is very tough to win over here. We are up against a very experienced India. Ashwin and Harbhajan are both fantastic and experienced bowlers. Dhoni and Tendulkar still lead the team as seniors. The team is very lucky to have those characters around.
"We are all doing as much as we can to learn from every match we play here. But we got to learn faster because we need to win this Test.
A good start will be vital: "Whether it is with the bat or ball, we have to make the first session matter."
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.