Embattled Aussie pacers seeking a change of fortunes at Nagpur

Sydney, Nov 4 (UNI) It's been almost a month since the tour began but the Australian pacemen are still searching to find the right approach to unsettle the rampant Indian batsmen and the hosts might be offered another batting paradise at Nagpur to regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

The Australian pacers, spearheaded by Brett Lee, have so far been almost ineffective in their quest to get 20 Indian wickets, while the spinners have been poles apart in copmparison to their Indian counterparts.

The figures of Australia's fast bowlers from the first three Tests, despite their improved showing in the drawn Test in Delhi, make sobering reading.

Mitchell Johnson is the best of the bowlers with 12 wickets at 34.58, and Brett Lee said yesterday the 27-year-old left-armer had carried the attack to the point where his senior teammates tried to feed off his aggression and unsettled the Indian batsmen with short balls.

The umpires were forced to intervene after Johnson hurled a few words at VVS Laxman about the Indian batsman's public criticism at Australia's ''defensive'' approach to the series.

''The way Mitchell bowled with his aggression was great,'' said Lee. ''He needed to lift up a gear, we were trying to get the vibes off him. He wanted to carry the ball for Australia and get some breakthroughs,'' Lee was quoted as saying by Sydney Morning Herald.

''He was pretty pumped up and that was great. What we've done in the first two Tests probably hasn't worked. If you're being critical about not taking wickets, we haven't achieved that goal.

''The last Test, we tried new things and watched what India do. Sometimes they bowl short stuff, then put ball up and try to get a nick or lbw,'' he added.

Stuart Clark, who missed the second Test due to an elbow injury, has just two wickets at 80.5 in 73 overs for the series, and Australian captain Ricky Ponting has indicated all three reserve bowlers - Krejza, Peter Siddle and Doug Bollinger - will come under consideration for a Test that Australia must win to level the series and keep the trophy.

''The guys on the sidelines, we have got to look long and hard at them - Bollinger, Siddle and Krejza - and see if we think they are going to add anything to our bowling group,'' Ponting said.

''We probably need to look at Jason a bit closer. He was named in the 12 (in Delhi) and I think you guys might have thought that was just for something to do, but believe me, he came very close to playing.

''So with a bit more work this week, he will certainly come into consideration,'' Ponting added.

However, the brand new stadium at Nagpur is expected to again be low and slow and would hardly give any respite to the embattled Asutralian bowlers.

The way part-timer Virender Sehwag purchased the turn and grabbed his five-wicket haul at Delhi, the Australia might be inclined to gamble with Jason Krejza as all-rounder Cameron White has not managed to make a meaningful impact with his leg-spin.

Siddle made an encouraging debut in Mohali, but Lee has backed the current group of fast bowlers to do the job.

''If we're moving the ball, we're in the ballpark. If the ball's going dead straight on these low, slow wickets, you're just out of the equation straight away, so if it's not swinging, we are definitely behind the eight ball,'' Lee said.

''You know what you're in for before you come here. You could whinge and say the wickets are low and slow and not great for bowling, but that's the challenge,'' he added.


Story first published: Tuesday, November 4, 2008, 11:34 [IST]
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