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Why this fast bowler will be Australia's key weapon in India...

Source: PTI
February 12, 2017 13:12 IST
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Australia fast bowler Mitchell Starc hopes to channel his success in Sri Lanka last year during the forthcoming four-Test series in India.

Mitchell Starc

IMAGE: Mitchell Starc celebrates a wicket. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Aware of the range of challenges India will offer during Australia's upcoming four-match Test tour, fast bowler Mitchell Starc says he hopes to extract swing -- both conventional and reverse -- from the SG balls on the spin-friendly Indian pitches.

India use the SG balls in Tests on their home soil, preferring them over the Kookaburra ball, which feature in most other Test nations including Australia. And, one of his major focuses during Australia's pre-tour camp here has been getting the feel for a different ball in his hands.

"It's been a while since I have been over there to play red-ball cricket, it's been four years," Starc said after Australia's intra-squad practice match at the ICC Global Cricket Academy in Dubai.

"It's a different ball (there in India), so there are different challenges there to try and get it reversing and to see if it swings when it's brand new," said the Australian left-arm pace spearhead.

There has been some debate about how to use Starc and fellow quick Josh Hazlewood in India for the Test series beginning on February 23 in Pune.

But, the 27-year-old Starc says he expects captain Steve Smith to use him in short, sharp spells in a bid to maximise his potency against India's batsmen, though the duration of his bowling stints may be affected by the effectiveness of Australia's slow bowlers.

"I guess it depends on the spinners, if they're taking wickets or not. It's obviously up to Smithy. It's probably a bit different to how we are used back home.

"It will depend on how the ball is reacting, whether it’s swinging conventionally or reverse.  I am sure there'll be times when we will be called upon to bowl a few extra overs in a spell but probably a lot of short spells as well," said Starc.

Starc's first experience of Test cricket in India in 2013 could hardly have been more challenging. After going wicketless in first Test in Chennai, he was dropped for the second match.

He earned a recall in the wake of the 'Homework-gate' incident, which saw four players ruled out for disciplinary reasons by then-coach Mickey Arthur for the third Test in Mohali from which he took two wickets.

Starc missed the final game through an injury as Australia slumped to a 4-0 series whitewash, with the left-armer finishing with a return of two wickets at an average of 100 for the series.

But Starc bounced back well after his below-par showing in India as he did an excellent job during Australia's Test tour of Sri Lanka last year though the tourists lost the series 3-0.

With 24 victims at 15.16 in Sri Lanka, Starc eclipsed Dennis Lillee's record of 23 scalps against England in the 1979-90 home Ashes for the most wickets taken by an Australian quick in a three-Test series.

The left-armer also eclipsed Sir Richard Hadlee's mark of 23 wickets against Sri Lanka in 1984 for the most prolific three-Test series by a visiting paceman in Asia.

Naturally, Starc hopes to channel his success in Sri Lanka on the Test tour in India.

"Some little changes in terms of batting plans but a lot of similarities in the fact that it's going to turn a lot against us.  So, a lot of similarities (from Sri Lanka) to India."

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