Australia’s lower order batters have been urged to take the game to India as they enter the fourth Test carrying one of the worst series records of all time.
Batting positions eight to 11 have yielded the Australians only 4.94 runs per innings during the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, with Pat Cummins’ knock of 33 in Delhi the only score in double figures.
Cummins will miss the final match of the series, remaining in Australia with his ill mother. Steve Smith will again captain the side after his winning effort in Indore.
Lower order runs have been a key advantage for India, particularly in their first Test victory, with Axar Patel (185 runs at 92.50) the second highest run-scorer for the series and Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin ranked eighth and 11th respectively.
Australian assistant coach Daniel Vettori, who made 4531 runs at 30 in Test cricket mostly batting at seven and eight, said there was a “busyness” lacking in the Australian tail’s batting which had to be brought to Ahmedabad on March 9.
“I think we all understand that defence is not necessarily a way through that situation because of how much the ball is turning and how good the bowlers are, and finding your scoring areas,” Vettori said.
“I think Pat (Cummins) did that exceptionally well in the first innings in Delhi, and I think the lower four have got an understanding of how to do it and how they want to do it, it’s just having the courage to actually take it out there.
“Even you see an innings like Umesh Yadav, I know it’s on the back of probably having that licence, but that can be such a difference maker in the scheme of things.
“We’ve got to push our lower four to have the confidence to actually take the game on.”
Vettori said the pitch conditions in the series had been far more difficult to bat on than the flatter wickets he had seen on tours of India with New Zealand.
“They were always just a war of attrition, the wickets I played on,” he said.
“It was India won the toss and got 600, you could get 400 and hang on for dear life in the last couple of days.
“That’s normally how it played out – it was a real grind, it was day five, the result was still in the balance, then normally a draw or a win to India.”
Vettori said he had been extremely impressed by the consistency of Australia’s spinners, particularly rookie pair Todd Murphy and Matt Kuhnemann, given the amount of pressure on the slow bowlers to deliver wickets on such lively pitches.
“They don’t wilt to the pressure, they just understand their process and they repeat and repeat and repeat. That’s the real skill over here … you can get carried away with what’s going on,” Vettori said.
“I think Kuhney in particular has come in so early in his career and Todd as well, and to be able to be consistent against some of the best players against spin you’ll come across in these conditions and with these expectations has been probably the most impressive thing so far.”