Second Test begins in Madras today: Shape up or ship out, India’s captain warns batsmen
MADRAS: India’s captain Sourav Ganguly urged his batsmen to deliver or face the axe when the hosts launch their series-levelling quest in the second Test against Australia here from Thursday.
“It is high time the batsmen realise they have to come good,” Ganguly told reporters on Wednesday, indicating he may reshuffle the batting for the crucial match. “They have to think positive. These are players who have got double centuries against the best fast bowling and on fast wickets. “Their records speak for themselves. I have faith in my batsmen to deliver but one can’t wait for ever.” India, missing star batsman Sachin Tendulkar due to a tennis elbow injury, were shot out for 246 and 239 in the first Test at Bangalore to lose by 217 runs. “It is a big blow not to have Sachin around, but the others have to stand up and be counted,” Ganguly said.
Tendulkar, the world’s most prolific batsman with 33 Test and a record 37 one-day centuries, was on Wednesday ruled out of the second Test and remains a doubtful starter for the remaining two matches as well. Ganguly sees the Test at the Chepauk here as his team’s “best chance” to draw level after winning two successive matches against the world champions here in 1998 and 2001. The Indian captain indicated Mohammad Kaif may fill the number six slot while left-hander Yuvraj Singh replaces Akash Chopra at the top of the order. “We want to give Kaif a go,” the captain said. “It is likely that Yuvraj may be pushed to open with Virender Sehwag.”
India is also pondering the inclusion of right-arm seamer Ajit Agarkar in place of Zaheer Khan, who took just one wicket in the Bangalore Test. Agarkar has a good record against Australia, claiming 29 wickets in eight Tests including a career-best 6-41 in India’s win at Adelaide last season. Ganguly said the even-paced wicket at the Chepauk, the scene of the tied Test between the two teams in 1986, will provide good bounce to the spinners. “This is a better wicket than what we got at Bangalore,” he said. That should be good news for Australia’s leg-spinner Shane Warne, who needs two more wickets to overtake Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan’s world record haul of 532. Warne managed 2-78 and 2-115 in the first Test but the 35-year-old is almost certain to break the record over the next five days. “I would like to think I will do it in this Test match,” said Warne. “If I don’t I would probably be carrying drinks in the next one.”
Australia, aiming to win their first series on Indian soil since 1969, will retain the same side that won at Bangalore and gave them a 1-0 lead in the four-match series. The world champions are already thinking ahead to when captain Ricky Ponting returns for the last two Tests after missing the first two with a broken thumb. Veteran Darren Lehmann, who has four centuries in his last 15 Test innings, said he was willing to make way for Michael Clarke, who scored 151 on debut in Bangalore. “I think Michael Clarke should play every Test for the next 10 or 12 years,” said Lehmann, 34, who is deputy to caretaker captain Adam Gilchrist in Ponting’s absence. “If it is me that has to go, that’s fine. I have always said I would not stand in the road of a young player.”
India (from): Sourav Ganguly (capt), Akash Chopra, Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Venkatsai Laxman, Mohammad Kaif, Parthiv Patel, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan, Zaheer Khan.
Australia (likely): Adam Gilchrist (capt), Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Simon Katich, Damien Martyn, Michael Clarke, Darren Lehmann, Shane Warne, Jason Gillespie, Michael Kasprowicz, Glenn McGrath. afp