Clarke hints at spin tweak for second Test
Though Australia are still undecided about the composition of their team for the second Test, captain Michael Clarke says if they go with one spinner, it doesn't necessarily have to be Nathan Lyon.
It may as well be referred to as the captain's dilemma.
When your lead spinner fails to pose problems to the opposition, on a turning track, and you don't have adequate back-up options, it doesn't inspire much confidence.
That happens to be Michael Clarke's predicament, ahead of the second Test in Uppal, starting Saturday.
Having gone into the Chennai Test with just one frontline spinner, the visitors paid a heavy price, not just because they lacked in the spin department but also because their lone option flopped miserably.
Nathan Lyon's performance, rather lack of it, witnessed him leak a massive 215 runs in the first innings, the Indian batsmen negotiating him with considerable ease.
Lyon was ineffective
The fact that Lyon is a bowler with limited talent notwithstanding, he failed to apply himself as well. Save a few deliveries, like the one which got Sachin Tendulkar out in the first innings, or the one that accounted for Virender Sehwag in the second, Lyon largely bowled to the strengths of the Indian batsmen, trying no variation whatsoever.
With him being ineffective, and the quicks, save James Pattinson, getting little purchase from the wicket, Australia witnessed the Indian team, led by MS Dhoni, accumulate runs in a heap, thereby making the end result obvious.
The visitors had failed to learn from the debacle England, having gone with a lone spinner as well, suffered in Motera,
Alastair Cook's side was quick to respond and made the necessary changes (read two spinners) ahead of the second Test at the Wankhede stadium, a move that would lead them to a memorable series win.
Image: Nathan Lyon
Australian think-tank in a selection quandary
In Australia's case there's glitch, though. While England lost in Motera, their lead spinner (Graeme Swann) made his mark. (We have already mentioned about Lyon's impact)
Besides, England's second option, Monty Panesar, happened to be a good bowler even if a bit inconsistent. Australia's choice for the second spinner boils down to two options, Xavier Doherty and Glenn Maxwell, not names that inspire confidence.
That leaves the Australian think-tank in a selection quandary; to go with two spinners or to stick with three quicks (and spin). In case they stick to the latter, that is go with their strengths, Lyon isn't guaranteed a place.
Image: Xavier Doherty of Australia warms up during a nets session
Photographs: Gareth Copley/Getty Images
'I'll be surprised if India doesn't play three spinners'
"If we go with one spinner for the match, it doesn't necessarily have to be Lyon," said Michael Clarke.
"It can be Doherty or Maxwell as well. Spin will play a big part in this match and we are going to select our team accordingly," added Australia's captain.
Unlike in Chennai, where they named the team two days in advance, the visitors will come out with their team sheet just ahead of the match.
Clarke offered a valid reason for the same.
"The wicket was prepared quite early and we are yet to see it. We want to give ourselves the best chance after looking at the wicket," he explained.
He is unsure about his team's composition, but Clarke had no doubt whatsoever regarding India's.
"I'll be surprised if India doesn't play three spinners," admitted the 31-year-old.
"Perhaps they will include (Pragyan) Ojha in place of Harbhajan, or a fast bowler," he added, as an after-thought.
Image: Michael Clarke