Aussies go into first Test without a ‘safety net’
Australia's bowlers will pay the price for their batsmen's sins after being boldly sent into an Adelaide heat wave without a safety net against India.
Australia's controversial decision to drop all-rounder Mitchell Marsh for Thursday's first Test at the Adelaide Oval came after his batting average of 26 was deemed a luxury a misfiring top order could not afford.
Many applauded the move but the true merit of it will be known until after a four-man Australian attack has ploughed through a predicted furnace over the next few days where on-field temperatures are expected to soar into the late 30s.
The decision to drop Marsh leaves Australia without a fifth bowling option and gives Indian coach Ravi Shastri an obvious first line in his final team address.
"Just keep them in the field as long as possible and it will pay dividends in this Test and beyond,'' is the mantra India must adopt.
With four Tests in just over a month, this series is shaping as a brutal war of attrition
For all his faults, Marsh was a handy fourth seamer but Australia decided it wanted Peter Hanscomb's runs more in a top order featuring debutant Marcus Harris.
"Mitch probably hasn't been as consistent as he would like and we would like,'' Australian captain Tim Paine said.
"We know the talent that Mitch has and most likely this series we will need him. We are taking the opportunity to send him back to play a Shield game and get some cricket under his belt knowing that at some stage we will need him."
Nathan Lyon shapes as the key man for Australia. The Adelaide Oval has been his most successful ground and four years ago against India he filled his boots with a 12 wicket haul.
He bowled 70 over in that Test and will again be saddled up to be both a strike and stock weapon and Paine said the heat would also be put on Australia's seamers.
"The fact our quicks go in really fresh, particularly at the start of the series. It is unlikely we will use all three quicks as much as we will this game as the whole series wears on. We think they will do the job.''
Indian captain Virat Kohli has great respect for Lyon but it will be interesting to see whether he tried to hammer him out of the attack to put extra pressure on the seamers.
"Lyon understands the pace of the wicket, the bounce that it's going to provide him, and where the fielders should be,'' Kohli said.
"He hits the bat harder and quicker than any of the spinners I've faced in Australia so you have to be at your best against guys like Nathan and their bowling attack.
"We're not going to be tentative anyone, we just have to bat our game.''
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