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Aussies must overcome the first innings curse

Last updated on: March 12, 2013 13:54 IST

Aussies must overcome the first innings curse

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Bikash Mohapatra

"Our poor first innings scores have let us down," Michael Clarke said after the Hyderabad defeat.

Bikash Mohapatra feels the Aussie batsmen need to set the agenda, the way Alistair Cook and his team did against the Indians last winter.

Australia's abject surrender in the Chennai and Hyderabad Tests has dented the formidable Aussie reputation as the team that never gives up.

Their spinners were not expected to trouble the Indian batsmen. The placid subcontinent wickets nullified the Aussie pace attack, traditionally their strength.

But their batting failure hit the visitors hard.

Australia have lost five of their last seven Tests in India. But never has their batting appeared so dismal.

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Image: Coach Mickey Arthur and skipper Michael Clarke
Photographs: Scott Barbour/Getty Images
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Clarke stood alone in the Aussie ruins

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On the subcontinent's flat tracks, batsmen set up the game for their teams, putting enough runs on the board to allow the bowlers to assert themselves.

Alastair Cook and Co demonstrated this more than once last winter when the English team thwarted the Indian attack.

Barring Captain Michael Clarke -- and Moises Henriques and Matthew Wade to some extent -- none of the Aussie batsmen asserted themselves.

While Clarke, with 268 runs, is the joint highest scorer in the series so far -- along with his Indian counterpart Mahendra Singh Dhoni -- Henriques has scored half those runs.

The top four -- David Warner, Ed Cowan, Phillip Hughes and Shane Watson -- were out of sorts in Chennai and Hyderabad.

In pique at being dropped from the Mohali Test on disciplinary grounds, Watson has now declared himself out of the series.

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Image: Michael Clarke, joint highest in the series so far, with Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Photographs: BCCI
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'I'm worried about the guys that are getting to 20 and 30 and then getting out'

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"Clarke getting 130 was sublime, even his 91 was outstanding, and Matty Wade getting to 64 great," coach Mickey Arthur explained after the Hyderabad game, ruing, "Perhaps they should have gone on a little bit more."

The South African -- who asked each member of the team after the Hyderabad defeat to point out how they could improve and knocked out all-rounder Watson, left-hander Usman Khwaja, pacemen Mitchell Johnson and James Pattinson from the Mohali reckoning when they refused to comply -- pointed out, "I am more worried about the guys that are getting to 20 and 30 and then getting out."

"Because if you get that far," Arthur explained, "you've got to be able to go the whole hog and take that responsibility to get a massive first innings score."

Australia also lost wickets in a cluster.

"It's something that batsmen certainly don't want to do," Arthur said, adding, "When we've lost a wicket, we tend to lose them in clumps."

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Image: When we've lost a wicket, we tend to lose them in clumps, coach Mickey Arthur said after the Hyderabad defeat.
Photographs: BCCI
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'Our first innings scores have let us down'

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Clarke identified a different problem.

"I'm more concerned about our performances in the first innings than in the second," the skipper said, indicating the disappointing 237 the Aussies posted in their first knock at Hyderabad.

"We were aware that there would be variable bounce on these wickets in the second innings," he added, "We won the toss and batted first in both matches."

"Our poor first innings scores have let us down."

With India having taken a 2-0 lead, the onus is on the visitors to salvage pride at Mohali.


Image: Australia's opening batsman Ed Cowan with coach Mickey Arthur.
Photographs: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
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