India vs Australia: Batting will be the difference, expecting a better scoreline than England and South Africa - Sanjay Manjrekar - Hindustan Times

After the disappointments in South Africa and England, Virat Kohli and the Indian team are all set to take on Australia in a 4-match Test series. The hosts will be without two of their best players in David Warner and Steve Smith, but then their bowling attack is top notch and against an Indian batting which has not been in the best of forms in overseas conditions.

Former India batsman and current commentator Sanjay Manjrekar believes that the Indian side should fare better in Australia.

“The strengths of both the teams are bowling, in fact Australia have a better attack since they have Nathan Lyon also,” Manjrekar told Hindustan Times.

“India have their problems with batting, and even the Australian batting is very poor. India played well in South Africa and England and the scoreline was not reflective of the performance, but I expect a better scoreline in Australia compared to England and South Africa,” he further added.

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As far as the Indian bowling is concerned, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, and Mohammed Shami were brilliant in England, and Manjrekar says he would stick with them.

I will go with 3 pacers and one spinner.

“If the pitch is good and on day 1 you see no indications of it being a rank turner later on, then Ashwin is your bowler. But, it looks as if the pitch is going to turn a lot, then you need to play Ravindra Jadeja.”

“As far as the fast bowlers are concerned, you need to identify the fact that Ishant Sharma is not the type of bowler who will go for the kill. He is a good 3rd seamer in the team and he is invaluable. Ishant is the workhouse.

If you have to run through sides, Bumrah and Shami are your bowlers,” he said

Problems with Indian batting

Barring Virat Kohli, the other batsmen have not fared well in England and South Africa and this had a bearing on the eventual result and Manjrekar believes that it is a combination of technical and temperamental aspect.

“Combination of technique and temperament. For some it is a technical problem, for the others it is temperament. Temperamental in the sense, short of confidence. It is not as if they are not willing to grit it out, but then like I said, it is a combination of technical and temperamental aspect,” the former Indian batsman assessed.

“The graph of all the batsmen has gone down together. Batsmen like KL Rahul, Murali Vijay, Ajinkya Rahane, Pujara as well, as a batsman his graph has gone down. In the case of Pujara, it is the sheer mental grit that enables him to get few runs in overseas conditions.,” he added.

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The Rohit Sharma debate

Rohit Sharma has been a prolific run-scorer for India in One Day Internationals, but his Test career has not taken off, The selectors have included him in the Test squad as they believe that the conditions in Australia should suit his style of play.

“I will play Rohit Sharma in the 1st Test, purely because like Prithvi Shaw, if Rohit Sharma gets runs quickly, you will discover that Indian batting will look stronger. The 1st Test is at Adelaide and Rohit has no issues against pace and bounce. I would not have picked him in South Africa and England, but in Australia, the ball comes on nicely he should bat at number 6. He can be dangerous batting with the tail, it will be a gamble, but worth taking,” Manjrekar believed.

There were a lot of expectations with Prithvi Shaw and the young man gave an early indication of his form by hitting a quick fire 50 in the first practice match. However, he has been ruled out of the 1st Test owing to an injury and this has come as a big blow for the Indian team.

Manjrekar believes that Shaw can be second-in-command to Virat Kohli and his ability to score quick runs against good balls gives him a lot of confidence.

“Prithvi Shaw’s batting against the West Indies gives me some kind of a hope. Hopefully, he will be good enough to be Virat Kohli’s second-in-command, like Ajinkya Rahane or a Murali Vijay was four years back in overseas conditions. He is a busy player, someone who will put pressure on the opposition very quickly because he is constantly scoring runs. He does not play too many strokes, his natural game is to score runs against good balls, short of good length, hit the deck kind of bowling that you see a lot in Australian and South African conditions.”

“He has to be wary against the ball which is pitched up, someone like a Hazlewood can trouble him as he gets the ball right up, drawing him forward outside the off stump. He likes to hang back, and everyone has a weakness. But, this would be the way I would attack him; outside the off stump and bowling at his ribs, to see how he handles it,” the Mumbai-man added.

First Published: Dec 03, 2018 16:18 IST

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