Darren Lehmann has acknowledged the fact that his batsmen will have to be wary of spinner Ravindra Jadeja on the last day of the Ranchi Test. The Australia coach also said his batsmen will have to display the the patience shown by Cheteshwar Pujara and Wriddhiman Saha if they are to avoid defeat.
Riding on Pujara’s 202 and a career-best 117 for Wriddhiman Saha, India gave Australia’s first innings total of 451 a fitting reply, taking a 152-run lead in the process. Two quick wickets from left-arm spinner Jadeja then left Australia reeling at 23-2 in their second essay at stumps on day four.
“Going to have to come up with a plan to combat Jadeja but we’ve worked on that and you’ll probably see it tomorrow I would think. They’ve got to believe in what they are doing as a group and a couple of good balls like tonight that can happen in a game of cricket. For us, it’s a great challenge. The challenge for our group is to put on a couple of partnerships and really get ahead of the game,” Lehmann said.
Jadeja has always been good at exploiting the footmarks created by other bowlers and it has held him in good stead, as it did in the first innings when he bagged a fifer. And he’s looks set to do the same once again having already notched up figures of 2/6 in 3.2 overs.
“It was a great ball that got Warner in the end. If they bowl 10 of those so be it. But we’ve got to cope with it as best as we can and come up with a plan and we’ve done a lot of practice in those conditions, so I’m really confident they can do the job and see how they go. It’ll be a great challenge for them,” the Aussie coach said.
Lehmann also appreciated Pujara’s marathon innings, saying that his batsmen will have to do something similar if they’re to save the Test on the final day. “He’s very disciplined and played really well. That’s why he is a class player. He bats for a long period of time. His conversion rate from 50 to 100 and 100 to 150 are pretty high. When he gets in, he likes to go on with it. That’s a challenge for our bowling group. To find a way to get him out early. Obviously, we’ve got to save the game and worry about tomorrow first. It’s a case of obviously applying ourselves much like Pujara and Saha did today.”
Jadeja removed Warner for 14 and nightwatchman Nathan Lyon for just 2, to leave Australia staring down the barrel. “Tough to lose those two wickets tonight, they were some good balls for them. Good challenge for the group to put it into practice tomorrow and we’ve got to do that and to deliver on the big stage,” Lehmann said.
With regard to the pitch, Lehmann said that there’s no reason to fear the wicket at the JSCA ground which is hosting its maiden Test match, terming it ‘a really traditional Indian wicket’. “Once the ball gets a little bit softer it plays pretty well so there’s no real demons in the track. You’ve got to prepare for all scenarios here in India, as you’ve seen the wickets start to wear on day four, day five, this has been a really traditional Indian wicket, a good wicket.”
Australia prepared for the ongoing Indian tour in Dubai and Lehmann said now all that’s left to be done is put the preparation into practice. “It’s quite a challenge. Preparing for Dubai that’s what we did and now it’s putting it into practice.”
Pujara and Saha’s lengthy exploits with the bat meant that the Australian bowlers were made to bowl 210 overs with Steve O’keefe bowling a record 77 overs, the most by an Aussie in India. And though Steve Smith gave Glenn Maxwell only four overs, Lehmann has backed his captain’s decision by saying “I think captain’s call obviously. We did speak about it, chopping and changing a little bit. The game was always on a knife’s edge so you always want your best spinners going.”
“And we chopped and changed a little bit, probably could have bowled a few more overs but I thought the spinners toiled really hard as well so that’s a call the captain makes out there and really happy with that. When you bowl 210 overs, I don’t think that’s happened too often and India do that well they bat long periods of time here in India. If anything it heightens our first innings where we needed to bat a little bit longer. But the bowlers worked really hard and I thought they were fantastic. Chopped and changed as best as they could in the conditions. We’ll see how they pull up and make a decision,” Lehmann concluded.