According to Andrew McDonald, the Australian team is not intimidated by Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. However, he acknowledged that his team’s batsmen need to figure out how to deal with the “perceived pressure” generated by these spin wizards.
The Australian head coach expresses regret about not taking advantage of a position of dominance, as discussions analyzing the second Test debacle continue.
At the midway point of their India tour, the visiting team is trying to recover from a massive setback. Initially, they had put their opponents in a vulnerable position for the first time in the series. However, they surrendered the Border-Gavaskar Trophy within a couple of hours due to a dramatic collapse of 8-28 in Delhi.
All 10 wickets in the second innings were taken by Ashwin and Jadeja, who have now been responsible for 31 out of the 40 Australian wickets to fall in the two Tests.
Ashwin and Jadeja were the top wicket-takers during Australia’s last two tours to India in 2013 and 2017. They have been responsible for 55 percent of all wickets taken by India in Tests played at home in the past seven years.
Australia has been paying close attention to Ashwin and Jadeja, to the point that they have used Baroda off-spinner Mahesh Pithiya as a net bowler because his bowling action resembles Ashwin’s. Additionally, assistant coach Dan Vettori has been enlisted to mimic the varying arm release points of both Jadeja and Axar Patel.
Andrew McDonald stated that he doesn’t believe the Australian team gets intimidated by Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin, but he acknowledged that the two spinners often take most of India’s wickets and bowl the most overs.
“In these conditions, when Ashwin and Jadeja have the ball in their hands, it’s highly likely that they will take the most wickets,” McDonald stated.
“Did we have a clear plan on how to play against them? Yes. Did we deviate from that plan? Yes. And did our deviation from the plan result in failure? Yes.”
McDonald attributed their day-three collapse to that particular point.
According to the coach, while Australia’s batters were urged to be bold after their dismal performance in Nagpur where they registered their lowest-ever score in India, their collapse in Delhi was more a result of hastily improvised tactics.
It seems that Steve Smith was also included in the criticism, as he was the first to be dismissed in the dramatic sequence when he was given out lbw while attempting his first sweep shot of the series.
After Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne had built a partnership and brought the team to a score of 2-85, leading by 86 runs, they both got out in quick succession, leading to a collapse of the middle-order where none of the following batsmen were able to score more than 10 runs.
McDonald stated that “it’s once again pressure, and in this case, it’s more about perceived pressure than anything else.”
“As a collective, we need to own the fact that our methods will be scrutinized, and rightfully so. Some individuals clearly deviated from the game plan that had brought them success over time,” said McDonald.
“We need to improve on that, that’s the crux of the matter. We need to take responsibility for it and we’re not here to avoid the fact that it was unacceptable.
“We need to strike a balance between aggressive play and defense, while also being able to rotate the strike,” said the speaker.
According to McDonald, “We believed we had put India in a precarious situation, which was a new experience for us in this series. It was the first time we saw the fielders drop back, and India had to dictate the pace.”
“At 2-85, Marnus and Smith had control of the game and were looking to build on the lead. What followed was quite evident and disappointing,” said the coach.
McDonald dismissed concerns about the departure of six Australian batsmen due to cross-bat shots in the second innings, stating that it is not a problem for those who depend on the sweep to score.
Usman Khawaja, for example, was dismissed playing a sweep shot in both innings. However, he also scored more than one-third of his runs in the first innings through conventional and reverse sweeps. Notably, his knock of 81 was the highest individual score of the match.
In three out of his four innings, Alex Carey has been dismissed while attempting a sweep shot. However, it is worth noting that he was successful with this shot during his Sri Lanka tour last year.
McDonald stated that they do not intend to deviate from their methods, but it is crucial to maintain a balance and some luck is required on such surfaces.
According to McDonald, the Australian side could take a cue from Axar’s cautious batting approach. The left-arm spinner, batting at numbers eight and nine, has outscored all the Australian batters in this series while maintaining a relatively slow strike rate of 54.67.
McDonald pointed out that Australia had been too impatient to reach a high total in their second innings.
According to McDonald, Australia seemed to have been in a promising position when they were 80-something runs ahead, but they were in a rush to expand the lead to 130 runs rapidly.
“We’ll discuss it with the batters and aim to recreate that situation in one of the remaining two games and execute it successfully,” McDonald said.
McDonald expressed disappointment that his team failed to capitalize on the good position they were in, saying that such positions are hard to come by in India and require a lot of hard work.
“The frustration lies in the fact that we understand the amount of effort we will have to put in to get back to that position,” he said.
The Border-Gavaskar Qantas Tour of India 2023 schedule is as follows:
February 9-13: First Test – India won by an innings and 132 runs
February 17-21: Second Test – India won by six wickets
March 1-5: Third Test in Indore at 3pm AEDT
March 9-13: Fourth Test in Ahmedabad at 3pm AEDT
All matches will be broadcast live and exclusively on Fox Cricket and Kayo Sports.
The Australia squad includes: Pat Cummins (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Matt Kuhnemann, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Lance Morris, Todd Murphy, Matthew Renshaw, Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner.
The India squad includes: Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul (vc), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KS Bharat, Ishan Kishan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Suryakumar Yadav, Jaydev Unadkat.