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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014
Brittle India lineup gives Aussies a glint of hope
Sahan Bidappa, Hindustan Times
Chennai, February 20, 2013
First Published: 00:13 IST(20/2/2013)
Last Updated: 00:16 IST(20/2/2013)

Amid the clamour of how important spin is going to be in India, Australia seem to have forgotten that they have one of the best fast bowling units in the world.

In Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Johnson, James Pattinson and Jackson Bird they have a mixture of youth and experience. Obviously, the conditions in India and their lack of experience in this part of the world bring down their impact level a bit.

But if ever there was a time for pacers to bowl at the India batsman in their backyard, it is now. In this moment of transition, it's the batting that has struggled the most in the last 18 months.

The away losses to England, Australia and then at home to English recently was mainly attributed to the dismal show of the batsmen. The result: Retirement of stalwarts Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, while Gautam Gambhir was axed for his poor form.

So, as India go into the Test series, it's perhaps the most inexperienced and vulnerable batting line-up that they have had for some time. Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar, despite their recent good form in domestic cricket, have a point to prove against the Aussies.

Starc times
Murali Vijay is making a comeback and the No 6 slot is a fight between the one-Test old Ravindra Jadeja and uncapped Ajinkya Rahane. Under the circumstances, the Australia seamers would like to believe that they have a chance.

Left-armer Starc had an excellent run in the Australian summer. The 23-year-old, with his ability to move the ball into right-hand batsmen at a lively pace, is one of the danger men.

In the recent past, Sehwag and Tendulkar have struggled against the moving ball, throwing up question marks over their reflexes. While England's James Anderson made Sehwag look clueless, Tendulkar has been guilty of being bowling through the gate. If Starc, at 6'3'', carries his excellent form, he will be a handful.

"We do fancy our chances against a visibly out-of-form India batting line-up, but they are still dangerous and they are playing at home. We have watched a lot of footage and how England went about their job against the India line-up," said Starc, who has bagged 28 wickets from seven Test matches.

The 23-year-old felt variation is the key in Indian conditions. "It's all about changing the length, mixing it up. There will be reverse swing happening, and it's more about being patient and forming bowling partnerships. You may not be the one taking the wickets; it could be happening at the other end. So everyone has an important role to play," he added.

Lurking danger
Johnson will also loom as the central figure in Australia's scheme of things. The 31-year-old may no longer be a permanent fixture in the team, but his experience of Indian conditions can add value.

“The bunch we now have is very exciting and I have had a good time with them. Some of the guys haven't played in these conditions before so it's a whole new experience for them,” he said.


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