India aiming to bounce back from poor showing in Pune
BANGALORE, India (AP) — After two batting collapses in a shocking, series-opening loss to Australia, it is little wonder the Indian batsmen such as Murali Vijay want to start all over again.
“I just have to get it out of my system and move forward,” Vijay said ahead of the second test in Bangalore, which starts Saturday and where the pitch is expected to play vastly differently. “There are a lot of things to learn, for me ... I’ve got some ideas and hopefully the next time there’s a wicket like that, I can implement better.”
Skipper Virat Kohli blamed India’s batting — they were skittled for 105 and 107 — for the unexpectedly lopsided 333-run defeat. India hadn’t lost at home in the 20 previous tests, while Australia entered the series on a streak of nine losses in tests played in Asia.
The Pune pitch was later rated as “poor” by International Cricket Council’s match referee, Chris Broad, in his match report. Left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe, not a noted big turner of the ball, snared 12-70 in his fifth test and tormented the highly-rated Indian batting lineup on its own turf.
“It’s going to be a good challenge for us as a team — it’s going to test our character and that is what we’re playing cricket for,” Vijay said. “Hopefully, we will play the way we have to and how we’ve played before.”
India’s batsmen are renowned for their ability to produce big innings in subcontinental conditions.
But the first test loss at home since 2012 has raised questions over the Indian batsmen’s ability to handle a wicket where the ball is turning square. The Australians, more accustomed to pace and bounce, tallied more than 500 runs in their two innings and won inside three days.
Despite the apparent role reversals of the rival teams in Pune, India will again be relying on its two premier spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja to pose a challenge to Steve Smith’s Australian lineup on a wicket which is expected to be another slower one, but unlikely to crack up until the last couple of days.
India also needed to address its fielding close to the wicket after putting down at least five catches at Pune, including some routine chances while Smith was compiling his century.
“We had a chat about it, and we’re working on a few areas where we could have done much better in the last test match,” Vijay said. “We’re looking forward to this game, and hopefully we can pull off those catches.”
Australia had a remarkable turnaround of form under Smith since an overhaul of the team following a series loss to South Africa at home late last year. The Australians swept Pakistan 3-0 and then spent a week in Dubai to get prepared for the challenge in India, where they haven’t won a series since 2004.
“We’ve had the preparation in Dubai which has been fantastic and we’re grateful for that opportunity and it’s really put us in a really good position coming here to India,” opening batsman David Warner said.
The Australia paceman, usually the main threat in the bowling attack, had little involvement in the second innings at Pune as the spinner O’Keefe and Nathan Lyon took all 10 wickets on a rank turner — conditions created to favor India.
Pace spearhead Mitch Starc is expecting to do a lot more work in the second test, although he still doesn’t see the conditions favoring the seam bowlers.
“I can’t see it being too bouncy or quick because it’s a weakness of the Indian batters,” Starc said. “We’ll probably see it not turning as much as this wicket has or breaking up as quickly ... it’s a smaller ground but a bit better of a wicket than what we’ve seen in Pune.”