Aussies worried as Sachin looks back to his best

Last Updated: Sun, Feb 24, 2013 06:13 hrs

Well, it’s finally arrived and what a great start it has been to this highly anticipated Test series which I believe will be a tremendously exciting and competitive one.  All the talk leading into the first Test has been about how well the Australian batsmen will handle the Indian spin attack on the turning subcontinent wickets.

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Michael Clarke’s great century has shown what a class player he is of spin and provides a real example for the rest of the batting order to follow. Ably supported by David Warner, Moises Henriques and a wagging tail, it has put the Australians in an excellent position with a first innings total of 380. Batting first in India and getting runs on the board is vital on pitches that will deteriorate during the match.

Other than Michael Clarke, the rest of the order has had little experience playing Test cricket in India. Batting in India is one of the hardest places in the world to succeed and with Australia’s batting order still not settled, it provides a great opportunity for our batsman during this series to cement a position in the team for a long time to come.

As the bowling performance from Ravi Ashwin has shown, facing quality spin bowling in these conditions is a tough ask and will be a real test of character for our batsman. I thought Ashwin’s performance was tremendous, and any time you get 7 wickets in an innings, it is a fantastic effort.

Whilst India’s turned to their spin bowlers, Australia will play to their strengths with their exciting fast bowling attack. Whilst I expect Nathan Lyon to play a role in this series, I believe Australia’s fast bowlers can, if they bowl to their plans and be patient, cause the Indian batsman some real concerns.

I always found when I bowled in India that there was always good carry through to the keeper with the new ball early and if you looked after the ball well, you could get the ball going reverse quite early. James Pattinson’s triple strike shows if you bowl with good aggression and intensity you can have success regardless of what the pitch conditions are like.

Congratulations to Moises Henriques on becoming Australia’s latest Test player. He has enormous shoes to fill, coming in for Mr Cricket, Michael Hussey, but I was not surprised by his excellent debut innings and I expect him to contribute both with bat and ball. Whilst he is making his Test debut in one of the toughest places in world cricket, Moises has been around the first class scene for quite some time in Australia and I expect this to hold him in good stead.

Worryingly for Australia, the ‘Little Master’ Sachin Tendulkar also looked back to his best as he showed why he loves batting in Chennai with a polished unbeaten half-century. With both Indian openers back in the pavilion and just 12 runs on the scoreboard, Tendulkar got off the mark with an exquisite shot through cover as he and Cheteshwar Pujara bailed India out of trouble with a useful partnership.

The Australians hit back when Pattinson got through Pujara’s defense, but Tendulkar again found an able partner in Virat Kohli who also looked in sublime touch. The Test appears nicely poised but Michael Clarke will undoubtedly be eager to strike early on Day 3 and seize the momentum back in his side’s favour.   

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