Numbers don't count for eager Australians

Chennai, Feb. 11 -- After brief stretching exercises, nine Australian players trooped into the nets at the MA Chidambaram stadium on Monday. And the first batch of players to take strike in four practice pitches were Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Jackson Bird and Moises Henriques - all bowlers, who were more focussed on sharpening their batting skills.

Having arrived in two batches, with two more to arrive in the next two days, the Aussies have just 11 men at their disposal as they take on Board President's XI in the first warm-up game.

Out of that only three - wicketkeeper Matthew Wade, Ed Cowan and Usman Khawaja are proper batsmen, with the rest either all-rounders or bowlers.

The situation has risen as the One-day international series against West Indies got over only on Sunday. So, it was imperative that the Aussie bowlers spent a large part of training on Monday facing Indian net bowlers with most of their batting counterparts due to arrive only on Tuesday.

Weak visitors

While the President's XI bowlers would be licking their lips at the thought of bowling to a depleted batting line-up, stand-in skipper Wade dismissed suggestions that players arriving in batches will affect their preparations.

"No, it should be alright. They're obviously not at home relaxing too much. They've been playing the ODI series against West Indies. So they've all played a lot of cricket in the last three-four months, which is good for us. They should have enough time to prepare. I think they'll be okay."

The Aussie selectors have drawn flak for their rotation policy.

But the phased arrivals reflect the importance Australia have given to this tour. Wade conceded that acclimatising to the conditions will be a challenge.

Pleasant surprise

"We expected it to be a little bit worse because a lot of them come over in the middle of the IPL when it's very, very hot," he said, referring to the Chennai weather, which was uncharacteristically pleasant on Monday.

"A pleasant surprise the weather isn't too bad at the moment and fingers crossed it can stay like that for the next 30-40 days anyway!" he added.

Despite England spinners' success against India, he said Australia would depend on their pacers.

"I saw a bit of the England series and in the last Test especially, the England quicks took a lot of wickets. We've got a great fast bowling attack. We've got Siddle, Pattinson, Starc, Johnson, along with a couple of spinners. I'm not sure which way we'll go but I'm sure the quicks will do a good job. Reverse swing is a big thing in India as well," Wade said.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.

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