After suffering a 137-run defeat in the third Test against India at MCG, Australian skipper Tim Paine said the absence of banned cricketers Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft from the national side has brought inconsistency in the results. Speaking to reporters at the post-match press conference, Paine said: “It is inexperience. It is pressure. India’s bowling attack being probably as good as probably most of these guys have ever faced. It is pretty clear, if you take 2 or 3 of the best players out of anyone’s lineup in the world, you’re going to struggle a little bit at times and have inconsistent performances. That’s what we are seeing.”
The 33-year-old further said that the Indian side would struggle too if they were without Virat Kohli or Cheteshwar Pujara. “If you took Pujara and Virat out of India’s side I think you would have the same conversation. If you have got world-class players that are not in your team, are they going to add to our team?” he said.
He further added: “So while at the moment it’s challenging and everyone’s frustrated, it is what it is and everyone is working hard and we’re getting guys who are getting the experience of high-pressure situations in Test cricket and learning on the job. At times you’re going to get inconsistency from guys that are in that situation. The silver lining is that we have got world-class players that are available soon to come back into this side and clearly when they do it will make a huge difference.”
Paine further praised India’s bowling attack and said that Australia’s top six struggled against the opposition. “In Perth, on a really tough wicket, our top six dug in and had a real crack. In this game, no doubt we were a little bit disappointing. That’s going to happen from time to time. We have to make sure we’re improving and our good and our bad is a little bit closer together than what it has been in the last couple of Tests. But I think it’s pretty common when you’ve got inexperienced players in your top six against high-quality bowling,” he said.
“Their pace bowling, in particular, has been incredibly disciplined and has worn guys down. That is a factor why we are having a lot of starts because they are just bowling really well and making it really hard to score. They grind you down and force you to make a mistake. There’s a little bit from our side, but you’ve also got to give them a huge amount of credit for the way they’ve been bowling as a group in this series and probably the last 12 months,” the right-handed batsman added.
Pane further praised India’s batting performance in the first innings, in which the visitors scored nearly 450 runs. “India batted superbly in the 1st innings, from that moment we were behind the game. We knew the wicket was going to deteriorate and it was going to be hard work against their disciplined attack. We’d like to get to Sydney, win the toss and have the same thing reversed,” he said.
“The wicket was always going to be a bit of a grind. It was going to be slow and at times expose a bit of a gap between sides. They won the toss, batted really well and kept us out there for two days. After that we were behind the eight ball, it’s pretty hard to come back from that. I think plain and simple, we were outplayed and India deserved to win this Test. You have to give India credit.”
With Aaron Finch, Peter Handscomb and Mitchell Marsh under the radar for a string of poor performances, Australia face a bit of a selection headache ahead of the 4th Test in Sydney starting from Thursday. Considering the spin-friendly wicket in Sydney, the hosts have roped in allrounder Marnus Labuschagne in the squad for the final Test.
“Marnus has been added to the squad, he’ll come with us to Sydney and have a look at the conditions. I think we’re hearing it will spin quite a bit, so once we see that for ourselves we can try to think about the best combination to win that Test,” he said.
Talking about the goals for the final Test, Paine said: “That’s the goal for us, to win the Test and draw the series. I think there will be a lot of things on the table in the next day or two and I’ve got some thoughts on what I think. We’ve got the best group of players available to us at the moment and we’ll pick the best combination out of that group that we think will win this last Test.”
“The batsmen would like to be scoring a few more runs but at the same time what we’ve seen is guys are getting starts. They’re seeing they’re good enough at this level, it’s just a little bit of a mind thing to really believe they belong at Test level,” he added.
India have a 2-1 lead in the series.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines