Cricket Australia Items/news/2013/2/21/pace-versus-spin-in-first-test

Pace versus spin in first Test

UPDATED 22 February, 2013 9:43AM AEST | by Robert Somers, Omnisport 8

It will be Australia's fast bowlers versus India's spinners when the highly-anticipated four-match Test series starts in Chennai on Friday night.

How Australia's batsmen and bowlers adjust to the stifling sub-continent conditions will go a long way to determining the outcome of the first Test.

But the pace attack's ability to deliver reverse swing will be particularly crucial.

The Chidambaram Stadium pitch has been known to offer a mixed bag, with some wickets favouring the spinners while others offer bounce and carry.

With India likely to name three spinners, you can bet the local curator will deliver a grassless dustbowl.

However Australia have put their eggs in the fast-bowling basket by including uncapped Moises Henriques over spin-bowling all-rounder Glenn Maxwell.

It makes sense.

India have put Shane Warne to the sword in the past, so it's unlikely Maxwell or even Nathan Lyon will trouble their senior batsmen.

But the ability of Henriques, Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson to match lion-hearted spearhead Peter Siddle's ruthless determination will decide Australia's fortunes.

If this attack fails, Australia would be left searching for answers, because their spinners aren't likely to do what Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar did to India.

The hosts will be under immense pressure at home after their embarrassing 2-1 defeat at the hands of England late last year.

Gautam Gambhir was the major casualty from Poms defeat, with youngsters Murali Vijay and Shikar Dhawan in the running to become Virender Sehwag's opening partner.

Youngster Cheteshwar Pujara will keep his place at number three after a breakout series against England while 39-year-old Sachin Tendulkar will slot in at his customary number four position.

A lot rests on the shoulders of erratic number five Virat Kohli, who must fill the void left by the retirements of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman.

Raw duo Ajinkya Rahane and Ravindra Jadeja will battle it out for all-rounder spot while skipper MS Dhoni will fill the wicketkeeper/batsman role at number seven.

India's bowling attack is far less settled without veteran seamer Zaheer Kahn who's missing because of injury and poor form.

While the Aussies preferred to show their cards, the Indians have kept their team selection secret, even up until Thursday afternoon (Australian time).

But Jadeja and veteran Harbhajan Singh are tipped to join left-armer Pragyan Ojha in a three-pronged spin arsenal.

Another crucial factor in the series will be the coin toss.

In the four Tests of Australia's victorious 2004 tour, the team that won the toss chose to bat each time - and didn't lose a Test. Australia won the toss and batted first three times in that series, winning two Tests and drawing the other.

It's been 44 years since Australia won a Test in Chennai. The Aussies' overall record at the ground is one win, two losses, two draws and one tie in the six Tests.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia

First Posted 21 February, 2013 1:37PM AEST

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