Bhuvneshwar looking to start afresh in remainder of Test series

  • Sai Prasad Mohapatra, Hindustan Times, Melbourne
  • Updated: Dec 24, 2014 06:59 IST

Amid a string of lows - two consecutive losses, bad practice wicket, dressing room unrest and Ravindra Jadeja's shoulder injury - Tuesday afternoon brought some good cheer to the Indian camp ahead of the third Test starting on Friday.

As the team hit the nets at the Melbourne Cricket Ground after a two-day break, Bhuvneshwar Kumar returned to action, indicating he is fit and available for selection.

India missed the swing bowler and useful lower-order batsman after he suffered a left-ankle injury before the series began.

Like the preparation for the first Test, the batting order was reversed with the tail-enders batting first up, but there was some method to the training. If nets indicate the player combination for a match, then Bhuvneshwar's outing was a giveaway. He batted first along with Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav, a strong indication of the change the think tank may have in mind. Bhuvi was an all-round success in the 1-3 Test series loss in England, scoring 247 runs and taking 19 wickets.

Intense training

However, for a change, the tail-enders faced a mix of bowlers, switching between the three nets. Varun Aaron and Mohammed Shami bowled in one, R Ashwin and Karn Sharma in the next with the other one used only for throw downs.

A lot of emphasis was laid on their facing the off-spinner, a weak area for the India batsmen for quite some time now. The tail-enders faced Ashwin for around 45 minutes in the intense session.

Skipper MS Dhoni was asked why India batsmen, adept at playing spin, struggle against off-spinners, the tail-enders even more.

"It's difficult to say, but what's important is to be positive against the spinner, because if you don't put pressure, be it a left-armer or off-spinner, they will end up taking wickets against you. So, it's very important to be positive, and even if you get out playing a few big shots you have to accept it. To say why off-spinners bowl well against us, we also have to see the match conditions etc. Overall, we have to be positive and that has been the case."

A slight drizzle cut short India's nets, and the pitch was skidding and appeared dangerous after one Varun Aaron delivery rose awkwardly and hit Ishant in the lower rib cage. Soon, the drizzle got heavier and the team moved into the indoor nets.

Aaron unlikely

With Bhuvneshwar available, the one likely to make way is Aaron. He may have been a revelation with his pace and bouncers that have rattled the Aussie batsmen, but his rawness has played a part in India's failure to seize a few key moments.

The pressure created by Ishant is being nullified by Aaron's expensive overs. Besides, the lack of a genuine swing bowler at critical stages has plagued India here and Bhuvneshwar's proven ability to draw error from left-handed batsmen can be a huge boost for India facing two left- handed openers in Chris Rogers and David Warner.

Although India may miss out on a bowler who can intimidate Australia with pace, down 0-2, India are more in need of a bowler who can take wickets and keep some check on the scoring.

If tightening a few loose ends in the bowling department is a priority, it will be a bigger priority to plug the batting gaps in the middle order. Here, whether to retain Rohit Sharma or not will be an important call.

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