'You have to have a game plan against spin' – Warner

Tait: Handscomb should be played in the middle order (1:19)

India have no reason to tinker with a winning combination, while Australia might look to bring in a couple of changes (1:19)

Australia vice-captain David Warner has rebuked the notion that Australia are not reading India’s spinners. Instead, he has offered the explanation that at the points they were introduced, the batsmen were already under a lot of pressure and that, more than any other factor, caused the match-losing collapses.

In Chennai, the score was 29 for 3 when the first Australian wicket fell to spin, in a match that suddenly took on the nature of a T20 because of rain. Four days later in Kolkata, Bhuvneshwar Kumar toppled the openers during a splendid new-ball spell and just as a partnership was developing between captain Steven Smith and Travis Head, the latter found short midwicket off a full toss to allow Kuldeep Yadav easy access to the lower middle order.

Two-down in the series, Australia are faced with a must-win situation in Indore on Sunday to have a chance at the trophy and Warner felt they were not ill-equipped to do that.

“I feel that the players can read the spinners,” he said at the pre-match press conference on Saturday. “And that it’s the odd one or two that when they can’t see the seam, then the players react off the wicket and that’s probably the odd one here or there.

“At the end of the day, you have to have a game plan against spin – whether or not to hit down the ground or sweep the ball. But when you’re losing wickets in clumps, you become tentative. So you have to apply that pressure [early]. If you get off to a good start and the spinners come on, it’s a different game then. It’s about the tempo of the game, and the situation of the game and I feel if we were in a different position, you’ll see a different mode against the spinners.”

There may be good news on that front. Warner felt the pitch looked very good, and noted the boundaries were rather small. The conditions may prove to be conducive to the injured opener Aaron Finch’s style of play, if he is cleared to return. On Saturday, he went through a batting session in the nets and tested the range of movement in his calf by running twos and threes between the wickets as well.

“He is a very good batter,” Warner said, “And he has played a lot of cricket for us over the past couple of years. He’s got a lot of experience and, for us at the top of the order, he brings a lot of aggression. It’s good signs to see him back in the nets and he’s doing everything he possibly can to be fit for this game.”

Recurrent injury issues have mean that Australia have run through 35 players in the two years since the end of the last World Cup. Matthew Wade, the wicketkeeper, has been their most capped in this period, followed by Smith, Warner and a man now discarded: George Bailey.

They went to South Africa last year with an under-strength bowling attack and lost 5-0. In February, they conceded the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy in New Zealand. Rain dogged them in England at the Champions Trophy, where they failed to make it to the semi-finals. The outcome of this run is the record of 10 losses, two no-results, one abandoned fixture and no wins over their last 13 ODIs away from home. Not the best record for the reigning fifty-over world champions.

“I think what you have to realise is we were world champions with a different team,” Warner said. “The team that we had when we won the World Cup was totally different. There was a totally different dynamic. The team has probably chopped and changed a little bit since then and it’s about the players putting numbers on the board and playing to the best of their ability.

“We’re trying to work towards the next World Cup, we’ve got about 30 games and that was the same lead-up and preparation we had with the previous team so we’ve got to find a stable team and once we work out what’s going to be the best to defend the World Cup. At the moment, it’s a work in progress. Can’t say that teams are better than us or we’re better than other teams.”

That job, however, appears a little hard at the moment, with Australia facing a fairly settled Indian line-up. Warner noted the difficulty an overseas batsman faces when he comes to the subcontinent for the first time and was particularly sympathetic to Hilton Cartwright, who has begun his ODI career as an opener in India with 2 runs in two matches, having to bat out of position.

“It’s always challenging for a young guy to come into the team and take the bull by the horns. It is very, very difficult. Especially when you come over here and play for the first time on a world stage against one of the best ODI teams in their home backyward – it can be overwhelming. What he brings to us is a lot of energy and, I’ll say, experience in his knowledge of the game as well. He is a workaholic, he loves the game of cricket, he brings a good dynamic for us and we thoroughly love having him here.”

Much as Warner was effusive in his praise of the young player, he conceded the seniors could not hide behind such excuses. “You grow up on wickets that are fast and bounce, and then you come up to the subcontinent and it’s your first Test series, it’s very hard to adapt. But when you keep coming back, there’s no excuse,” Warner said.

“You should know the conditions very well. In saying that, when you’re out there, you become tentative. The game situation dictates that if you lose a couple of wickets, what do you do? Do you use your feet? Do you play with one stride? They are the things that you have to work out and adapt when you’re here. So as a senior player coming back to these situations you should know your game well enough. Our talk in the one-day format is to get off strike, to hit the guys in the boundaries; you should know that game very well.”

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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