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Fear of the unorthodox for Aussies

Despite being on a World Cup-winning streak, not many are considering Australia as one of the major title contenders. But that hasn’t distracted Ricky Ponting’s men from their aim of making it four titles in a row. Amol Karhadkar reports. Switch hit

cricket Updated: Mar 04, 2011 02:01 IST
Amol Karhadkar

Despite being on a World Cup-winning streak, not many are considering Australia as one of the major title contenders. But that hasn’t distracted Ricky Ponting’s men from their aim of making it four titles in a row.

Once they ended a two-day break after arriving here for Saturday’s crucial tie against Sri Lanka, Australia have adopted a methodical approach in preparing to face one of the toughest challenges for any team — taking on Sri Lanka in their backyard.

With the Asian giants having many unorthodox bowlers in their ranks, Australia coach Tim Nielsen and batting coach Justin Langer have devised innovative ways to get their batsmen ready to surmount the three Ms — Malinga, Muralitharan and Mendis.

INNOVATIVE TRAINING

Most of the net sessions over the three days have seen batsmen concentrating on scoring on the on-side. Some of the support staff acted as fielders in the 30-yard circle on Tuesday; On Wednesday, the batsmen tried to bisect the five targets — posing as fielders — on the on-side.

No doubt Australians are thoroughly prepared to face the Lankan music. David Hussey explained the methods they are adopting to succeed against Sri Lanka. “Murali is a great bowler. We are practicing hard at the nets…, trying a bit of back and forth and then the sweep shot,” Hussey said on Thursday.

“Malinga is second to none while bowling at the death, similar to Shaun Tait. The ball is going to come straight most of the times and at times into you, so we need to be ready for that. You need to watch the ball as hard as possibly you can do, and hopefully your instincts will take over.”

ACTION ANALYSIS

More than batting in the nets, Hussey admitted it’s the off-the-field homework that would come more into play while facing bowlers with unorthodox actions.

“We have to do a lot of video analysis. Get used to their actions,” the power-hitter said. “In the nets, I prefer to stick the basics. In the game, I just hope I get the better of them.”

Muralitharan, on the other hand, rated both teams had “50-50” chance . He said Australia are on a 26-match unbeaten streak in the World Cup.

“They are good enough players, and have played spin in different conditions and won all around the world,” he said. “And they are still No 1. They have won in every condition. They are the team to beat, so everyone is looking forward to beat them.”