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POA in place, Aussies leave nothing to chance

cricket Updated: Sep 25, 2008 00:04 IST
Arjun Sen
Arjun Sen
Hindustan Times
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It might be early days yet, but if the Aussies' first training session in India was a sign of things to come, Greg Chappell's role as the team's assistant coach will be a pretty much hands-on one.

Greg Chappell, whose every move has been discussed and dissected ever since he came here with the Australian team, spent a considerable amount of time with most of the players individually, both batsmen and bowlers, in the almost four-hour long nets session.

The much talked about 'customised' wickets prepared by the Rajasthan Cricket Association under the guidance of Chappell to help the Aussies gain an idea of just what to expect in India were on show on Wednesday, and, by the looks of it, Chappell has done his homework.

Sources at the Rajasthan Cricket Association say that Chappell wanted 'one wicket that turned square', one that would 'be like Nagpur, 2004' and a third 'conventional Indian wicket'.

And though it was hard to see whether the former India coach got what he wanted from the tracks, what was clear was the fact that there were clearly designated tracks for the pacers, the medium pacers and the spinners.

Of the fast quartet of Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson, Stuart Clark and new boy Doug Bollinger, it was Bollinger who caught the eye with a few more than decent deliveries which had the likes of Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke in some discomfort.

The word from Down Under is that Bollinger is fast, menacing and could be a handful for the much-vaunted Indian batting. A surprise inclusion to the team, this left-armer could yet prove to be the most prudent.

But Bollinger was not the only new face on show. Though both the spinners in the Australian side, leggie Bruce McGain and off spinner Jason Krejza, have played in India in the past – they were a part of the Australia A team that toured earlier this month – there was a lot of curiosity to see the men who will shoulder the unenviable task of keeping quiet the Indian bats.

Though the Australians have sought to underplay the edge the Indian spinners hold over McGain and Krejza, they know that their spinners have to hold their own against Virender Sehwag and Co. A task, much easier said than done. And perhaps, it was with this in mind that Chappell went straight to Krejza, monitoring his action, watching him bowl very closely, almost as if trying to look for that one flaw the Indians could exploit and right it. But though Krejza bowled a long spell, McGain, surprisingly, did not bowl.

Most of the batsmen looked rusty, being beaten, even by the local bowlers, but it is precisely to get over this rustiness that the Aussies are in Jaipur. It is all part of the plan.