The SCG provides India an opportunity to halt an alarming slide and Australia the chance to build on what is looming as a pace bowling-led recovery. The consistently penetrating bowling of Australia’s aggressive young pace bowler James Pattinson, combined with Peter Siddle’s rejuvenation and Ben Hilfenhaus’ successful return to the international arena is incentive for the beleaguered batsmen to resolve to do better in 2012. They’d know now that a score of around 350 could be enough to set up a win at the SCG, rather than needing to amass a huge total.
Relaxed mindWith skill as a given, being relaxed is probably second only to confidence in an international batsman’s armoury. Anything that helps to relieve tension is a step in the right direction. There are also positive signs that Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey are playing with more assurance.
However, it’s the less experienced batsmen who can benefit most from Australia’s pace bowling resurgence. Armed with the knowledge that India’s batting line-up can be held in check, they now know that consistency is what’s required to complete a winning formula.
Get Sehwag, get India
There were signs that the Australian pace bowlers’ success against the talented Indian batting line-up might be more than a one-off triumph. Gautam Gambhir is in trouble, as he’s discomforted by the extra bounce.
Stopping Virender Sehwag is an important part of restricting India. The length the Australians are currently bowling is the most testing the opener can face. He loves it short outside off-stump but the Australians, operating on a fuller length, are more likely to exploit his lack of feet movement. Keep Sehwag quiet and you reduce the Indian line-up’s effectiveness by around 50%.
The player the Australians haven’t yet found an answer for is Sachin Tendulkar. He looked in top form and with the SCG being his favourite venue in Australia, they’ll need to find a solution quickly. If Australia can shut down Sehwag and Tendulkar then India could well be propelled on a downhill slide.
It’s no good having a penetrative pace attack led by a tentative captain. Michael Clarke is anything but and he’s shown himself to be a pro-active skipper.
MS Dhoni on the other hand set the tone for India’s slide to oblivion on the final day at the MCG. He was extremely conservative. He lamented India’s inability to rid themselves of the tail-end batsmen. He only needs to pay attention when shaving before the SCG Test to find the solution to that problem. India have now lost their last five overseas Tests but the difference between the England series and the start of this tour is the form of the bowlers. Victory at the SCG will go to whichever teams’ batsmen perform best.