How the Australians would love to carry the Mohali pitch with them everywhere they play in India! It was tailor-made for them - suited to their bowling strength of pace and bounce.
But from here on, it will be a different ball game. They are in Indian skipper MS Dhoni’s territory for the next contest and it will be silly of them to expect the same hospitality from the Ranchi ground staff.
Licking their wounds after defeat in the third one-dayer, India will be more confident playing at Dhoni’s home ground for the conditions will be made to suit them more. The bounce won’t be as pronounced as it was in Mohali and spinners will get more purchase if they get to bowl first.
And this is how the conditions will be at most venues in the second half of the series. The sooner the visitors make mental adjustments to swim against the tide the better it will be for them.
Australia are unfazed by talk of the conditions, though. Buoyed by their success so far in the series, they will stick to their strategy of intimidation through pace. They see enough weakness in the Indian ranks, especially in the three left-handers - Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh and Ravindra Jadeja.
Yuvraj has shown a tendency to play away from the body and was dismissed in similar fashion at Pune and Mohali. Raina was rattled by the short ball, and after getting out to a rising delivery in the last game, Jadeja also has a point to prove.
Australia’s hard-hitting batsman Glenn Maxwell declared on Monday that Indian batsmen are about to face more chin music. “I think the lead-up to the short ball has probably been our best strategy so far. I don’t think we’re going to change our strategy too much. We thought we bowled pretty well.
“Unfortunately, Dhoni went off at the end. He played brilliantly. I thought we bowled really well the last game. It felt like we sorted out a few of their batsmen. Hopefully, they’ve got a few worries in their camp. We’re feeling pretty good at the moment,” said Maxwell.
Despite that confidence, the Australia bowlers are aware that there could be lot of hard work in store. Against the India openers, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, it’s been about making them play the swinging ball. But here, Clint McKay and Co may not be able to extract the same movement. Also, the dew factor will be a big hindrance for the team bowling second.
However, the batsman who will consume most of the Australian think-tank’s time will be Dhoni. At the top of his game, he also has a solid approach against their main weapon — the short ball — playing it in his unique style.
With no perceived weakness in his batting, their strategy is to play on his patience. “We need to put that dot ball pressure on him and hopefully shut him down early on,” said Maxwell.
“I think we had pretty good plans to him (in the) last game. A couple of things didn’t quite go to plan. I think we dropped a catch, one ball that just cleared mid-off. If we take those chances, we’re chasing 260-270 and we finish that game a lot earlier. I felt our plans were very good. We made him face a lot of dot balls at the start of the innings. Hopefully, here we get a bit more assistance with the ball. Hopefully, a bit of spin as well and we can really put a lot of pressure on him.”
He added: “In the first game (in Pune) when he had to do the same role, he didn’t quite do it in that game.”