Australia are aiming for a whitewash but that is easier said than done as skipper Michael Clarke today conceded the conditions at Adelaide Oval are more of India’s liking even though he expects reverse swing to play a crucial role during the fourth and final Test starting from Tuesday.
Australia have already pocketed the four-match series with a 3-0 lead after comprehensive triumphs but Clarke has insisted that 4-0 is what his side is focussed on.
“We know these conditions are probably going to suit India a lot more than where we have come from in Perth so we are going to have to be at our best to beat them,that is for sure,” Clarke told reporters here today.
Clarke said he would be relying on his bowlers’ ability to reverse swing to get the better of the visitors who have just pride to play for.
“I think reverse swing will play a huge part in this Test. It always does. The ground is in great nick so the outfield will keep the ball newer than I have seen it in the past. But I think as the day goes on,especially in the heat,you will see a lot of reverse swing,” said Clarke.
Considering the spin-friendly conditions,Mitchell Starc will do the duty as the 12th man making way for off-spinner Nathan Lyon in the XI.
“It’s probably as close to Indian conditions as you’re going to get in Australia. So as a batting unit,we have been working on that in the nets. We have faced a bit of reverse swing and fair bit of spin. So I think our preparations have been spot on,” Clarke said.
Having made his decision to persist with Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus in the Test,Clarke explained his reasons for it as well.
“We think that’s the best XI to give us every chance to win this Test. I think the experience of the other three quicks will play a big part in these conditions.
“The wicket looks really good and I think besides the reverse swing,it will also keep up and down. Those three guys can certainly bowl at the stumps quite consistently so if it does go up-and-down,that brings the lbw and bowled into the game,” Clarke explained.
“In my opinion it was about picking the best XI to win the Test. I have said that from the start,that we want to win every Test match that we play and this series is no different.
“I guess winning the last two Test matches in less than five days has helped everyone as well recover so all the guys are fighting fit and ready to go.”
Hilfenhaus,strangely,hasn’t enjoyed too many great days in Adelaide and there’s a feeling Siddle could be tired by the workload of playing eight successive Tests.
“I’ll bet you it’s better than his record at the MCG where he had a horrible record and we picked him there and he got five-for.
“I’m really confident Hilfy’s at the top of his game,bowling really well and can adjust to whatever conditions he faces. He’s a very good bowler with the new ball but he’s also very good at bowling straight if the wicket is slow and low and he’s got great control with reverse swing as well. He’ll play a big part in this Test,” he said.
“Hopefully what he (Siddle) has produced in the first three Tests would continue. I think he has bowled beautifully. It’s a great Test for us as a team in what are going to be tough conditions to take 20 wickets.”
Clarke also backed Lyon,who has picked up just two wickets so far.
“I definitely have a lot of confidence in Lyno. I would hate to put that sort of expectation on him. I would love to see him go out and perform like he has done for Australia since his debut,” Clarke said.
“I think the key for Lyno is to continue to do a job for the team and help us have success,like he has done for a number of Test matches now. Nathan knows these conditions as good as anyone,he has played enough cricket here and I think he’ll play an important role here in helping us trying to win the Test.
“Nathan knows these conditions as good as anyone,he has played enough cricket here and I think he’ll play an important role here in helping us trying to win this Test match,” he added.
Australia’s persistence with its pacemen also goes against the rotation policy of its selectors.
“What we’ve got at this moment is a couple of guys who are injured and we’re trying to pick the best fast bowlers we have.”
A feeling has persisted that the pitches in Australia this summer have been overtly grassy and helpful to seam bowlers. Clarke doesn’t feel this has been deliberately done to put the tourists to disadvantage.
“The pitches have been the same in Australia for the last two years,I think they were exactly the same against England,they were pretty similar in South Africa as well so that is part of being an international sportsman,you travel the world and play in completely different conditions.
“I have played a number of times in India when the ball has spun so that will be no different next time we go there I’m sure. In my opinion,it’s very hard to doctor the wicket when you’re playing against very good opposition,” Clarke said.
“It’s about preparing a pitch and then both teams playing on it so that will be no different when we go to India and I think it has been the same in Australia for a while now. In the last couple of years I have seen a little bit more grass on the pitches,” he added.
The Australian captain is determined to finish the series on a high and had sympathy for his opposite number Mahendra Singh Dhoni who has been banned from this Test for slow over-rate.
“It’s harsh that the captain is the one who suffers the punishment but that’s the reality of your job as the leader of the group. You are responsible so that is the way it is.
“Our preparation has been the same as the first three Test matches,we flew into Adelaide a day early to make sure we had enough time for training. So our focus is exactly the same – we want to continue to play some really good,positive cricket,” he said.