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Wednesday, 20 February 2013

We’ll play the Australian way: Clarke | Australia in India 2013

Touring India has been one of the most daunting assignments faced by the western teams over the years. Winning a Test series here has been a cherished dream of every captain – even a tough captain of an invincible Australian team, Steve Waugh was compelled to term India as his final frontier.

However, times have changed. With the advent of the IPL and CLT20, young international players are pretty well-versed with the Indian conditions that were once considered the hardest part of touring this part of the world. India’s recent 1-2 loss against England has also stained their impeccable home record.

When suggested that Australia could take a leaf out of England’s series winning performance here in late 2012, captain Michael Clarke, said they will play the brand of cricket known to them rather than imitating some other team.

“Australia and England are two different things, “Clarke said. We won’t be looking at how England played. We want to play our way. We think we have our strengths that we can stick to and we believe those strengths can help us achieve success in the subcontinent.

“Yes, we have watched a lot of footage of the India-England Test series but we won’t be looking to play like England. We’ll play the Australian way.”

While Clarke believes frequent exposure of India will bode well for the new-comers, who have played in India at some level or the other, he refused to admit that winning in India has become easier.

“If you’re not at your best in these conditions, you won’t beat India,” Clarke said ahead of the first Test in Chennai. “It’s going to take contributions from everyone – every player and member of the support staff to achieve success in India. It’s never easy to play here, that’s for sure. For the Australian cricket team India has always been a hard place to win.

“I think the IPL and CLT20 has played a huge part in regards to the international players getting used to the country, the conditions you play in, the climate, the food, the hotels you stay in, the culture, etc. Just about everyone in this squad has been to India; if not for a Test match, for IPL or CLT20,” he said.

Clarke has, time and again, stressed the importance of getting acclimatised to the conditions before embarking on the Tests. While he himself couldn’t partake in any of the two warm-up matches the visitors played in India, the captain is satisfied with the practice his squad has had.

“I think just to play a couple of practice matches and facing a lot of spin and reverse swing is a positive for us going into the Tests. Playing in a game is always better than batting in the nets.
“I think it’s been really good for the players to see the conditions. A lot of guys have played in the shorter forms of the game in India but they haven’t played with the red ball in preparation for Test cricket,” he said.

One glaring aspect of Australian batting in the practice games was their frailty against spin bowling. Out of 23 wickets they lost in both games combined, 21 went to the spinners (two were run-outs). While Clarke is wary of this shortcoming, he didn’t see it as a hindrance as Australia try to reclaim the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

“The more somebody bowls the likelier they are to pick wickets. I thought their spinners bowled a lot of overs and hence they got a lot of wickets,” he said. “But it’s an area where we need to improve as we know that we’re going to face a lot of spin bowling against India in all four Tests and especially in Chennai. We have trained well for that.”

Clarke, who joined the team late on account of a dodgy hamstring, said he was feeling confident about his fitness and is raring to go in the first Test. He also expressed satisfaction on David Warner’s recovery from a broken thumb and was positive about him getting fit before the start of the Chennai Test on Feb 22. Clarke, however, was non-committal on Shane Watson’s batting position.

The Australian captain also kept his cards close to his chest when queried about the team’s bowling attack for the first Test. He, however, hinted at playing three fast bowlers as pace is Australia’s strength.

“We have a really good squad and so a lot of choices. We’ve got good spinners but our strength for a while has been fast bowling. I think rather than thinking how India are going to play and to which bowler the conditions will suit, we will play to our strength.

“Yes the ball spins in India when it deteriorates but it also has variation and bounce. The reverse swing will also be very important,” he said


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