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1st Test: Will Aussies Field 2 Spinners?

February 02, 2023 13:30 IST
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IMAGE: Uncapped off-spinner Todd Murphy could feature alongside senior spinner Nathan Lyon for the opening Test against India in Nagpur on February 9. Photograph: Matt King/Getty Images

With days left for the start of the opening Test between India and Australia in Nagpur, the visitors are getting serious with their game plan for the series opener.

Australia, who haven't won a Test series in India since 2004/2005, could try out an unique bowling combination in the absence of strike bowler Mitchell Starc and all-rounder Cameron Green.

Australia could go into the series opener in Nagpur with two specialist right-arm off-spinners, playing the experienced Nathan Lyon alongside rookie Todd Murphy, who is yet to play an international match, a report on stated.

Australia, who arrived in India on Thursday, have decided not to play a single tour game in India during the month-long Test series, primarily due to the hosts serving up green tops for practice matches and spinning tracks for the actual games.

The 18-member squad, led by Pat Cummins, had a pre-series camp on spin-friendly tracks in Sydney and will have a week-long stint in Bengaluru before the first Test in Nagpur from February 9.

Of Lyon's 115 Tests, only 21 have been played with another specialist spinner (or spinners) in the side. Unlike Lyon, those bowlers have all turned their stock ball away from the right-hander.

Though Australia have left-arm spinner Ashton Agar and leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson, who can both turn the vall away from the right-handers, the visitors are likely to play two off-spinners against a right-handed heavy India batting line-up.

In the absence of Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, if he passes his fitness test, and Axar Patel could be the only left-handers in the Indian playing XI with K S Bharat set to take over the gloves ahead of Ishan Kishan.

Asked if he could play alongside Lyon in India, Murphy told, 'It's going to come down to pitch conditions and what they feel their best combinations are. There's no reason you couldn't play two right-arm off-spinners over there if conditions suited.'

Murphy, 22, has only played seven first-class matches picking up 29 wickets.

Nagpur is where little known Australian off-spinner Jason Krejza claimed 12/158 in the opening Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in 2008; the visitors went on to lose by 172 runs.

The pitch at the Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium could offer a lot of assistance to the spinners. The last match played at this venue -- the Ranji Trophy game between Vidarbha and Gujarat -- finished on the third morning.

Vidarbha, who were defending 73, bowled out Gujarat for 54 to set the record for the lowest target defended successfully in first-class cricket in India.

>Even though the Ranji Trophy game was played on a side pitch adjacent to the centre wicket being prepared for the first Test, there is no denying the fact that India will be looking make most of the home advantage and create a spin-friendly track.

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