Australia hope to decode Sehwag

Cricket: Test series: Visitors look to exploit Indias injury-hit bowling

Australia hope to decode Sehwag

Ever since they landed in India for the Test and one-day series, player after Australian player has made it clear that the dashing opener is the one the visitors will be gunning for. On Wednesday at the Punjab Cricket Association stadium, which hosts first of the two Tests from Friday, Aussie coach Tim Nielsen too joined in the chorus, saying a lot of their strategies have been framed with Sehwag in mind.

“Sehwag is one of them. He just has such a damaging effect at the top of the order,” began Nielsen when asked about which one factor made the Indian team such a dangerous outfit.

“We have spoken about that. The individual players have their plans on how to counter his aggressive style of play. It makes so much easier for (Rahul) Dravid, (Sachin) Tendulkar and (VVS) Laxman if they are batting on the back of a whirlwind 70, 80, 90 or a hundred from Sehwag. He certainly goes a long way to setting up their innings,” explained Nielsen. 

Earlier in the day, Sehwag had sent out a warning stating he always looked to score runs. “Whether I am paying T20, ODI or Test cricket, it makes no difference to me. I like to bat the same way and score runs whenever I come out to bat.”
While India’s batting certainly wears a cloak of solidity, it’s the bowling that looks a bit suspect.

There’s an injury cloud surrounding Harbhajan Singh, while Zaheer Khan and S Sreesanth are just back after recuperation and Ishant Sharma is yet to fall into his old rhythm. Nielsen obviously isn’t oblivious to India’s bowling woes.

“The only concern they have is that they have a couple of bowlers coming back from injury. I guess Sharma hasn't quite been in the devastating wicket-taking form. He had come back from Australia where he really had burst onto the scene. He had had a huge impact on the last couple of Tests of that series, and then the series over here,” pointed out Nielsen. 

The Aussie, however, maintained that the hosts, as a unit, formed a good attack. “Everybody talks a lot about their individual bowlers, but as a bowling group, they are a consistent unit.

They have played together for quite a while. Zaheer has become the leader of the attack, and Harbhajan has over 350 Test wickets. Sehwag sets it up with the bat, and the bowling unit works well as a group,” he observed.

Nielsen, meanwhile, said a final call on the availability of left-arm paceman Doug Bollinger, who joined the camp on Tuesday along with Michael Hussey after a successful run at the Champions League for Chennai Super Kings, would be made later.

“We talked about it from the start that Michael and Doug wouldn't be here till a certain stage. We just let them know that if they are fit, they are more than likely to take their place in the team. We have to make the right decision, not only on their getting a spot, but make sure that they are physically and mentally ready to play. So we will have another look at them tomorrow, and make sure they are ready to go.”

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