Whilst it would appear that Australia’s changes in the second Test haven’t proven to be the masterstroke they were hoping for, it has been the failure from their top order batsmen that is the biggest concern for the Australians.
Michael Clarke and the Australian selectors going with two spinners came as expected in Hyderabad – the subcontinent wickets are built for spin as we have seen in both Tests so far.
The surprise came in the form of Xavier Doherty and Glenn Maxwell though, who replaced Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Starc in varying circumstances. Both guys are largely untested at this level and certainly in India, so it was always going to be interesting to see how they performed in this Test match. One thing for sure that needs immediate improvement is the form of Australia’s top order batsmen.
Coming into this Test, it was well documented that Michael Clarke needed a platform to work from when he came into bat. His form has been outstanding for as long as I can remember, but help is needed from David Warner, Ed Cowan, Shane Watson and Phil Hughes. These players have been around long enough now and need to be able to get Australia’s innings well established before Clarke comes to the crease.
Unfortunately, they struggled again on day one - this time Bhuvneshwar Kumar doing the early damage - leaving Clarke and Matthew Wade to come in and rescue the Aussies with a gritty partnership that led to a declaration of 9-237.
Quick wickets were essential for the Aussies on day two, but unfortunately these did not come. Sehwag’s wicket was a good start, but he was never going to hang around and build an innings like a handful of their other top order boys have. The Australian bowlers needed to maintain aggression against the patient Indian top order, but the innings of Pujara and Vijay have put India in a dominant position.
With India now looking at a massive first innings lead, Australia’s task becomes almost insurmountable. If ever there was a challenge for the Australian top order, the second innings of this Test match is the time.
Clarke desperately needs some of his top four batters to fire and score some big runs in the second innings to give the bowlers some form of a target to bowl at. The skipper has shown in both Tests how to face the Indians in dry, turning conditions, but Australia can’t continue to rely on him to pull them out of trouble.
The challenge has been set - it’s now up to his teammates to follow suit and turn rescue missions into match winning performances.
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