Aus admit Smith, Marnus struggling with India’s leg-side theory

Indians have managed to control Australia’s top two batsmen, Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne, in the first two Test matches with the ‘leg-side theory’, admittted the Australian team management.

“I wouldn’t be too quick to judge Steve Smith in the middle. Yeah, he hasn’t got going yet in this series. In the first four balls he faced in the first innings of the Boxing Day Test, he looked pretty solid, has looked good at the nets too. and Marnus too,” said Australia assistant coach Andrew McDonald while speaking to the media on Thursday.

“The question for me at the moment is the tactical way India have prepared and have been able to control those two players especially with a sort of leg-side theory so to speak. So I suppose those two players will have to come out with a better method. I don’t think it has to do anything technically. They are technically in a good space but it is the method to score runs and how they are going to combat these tactics from India bowlers and captains, that has been discussed in our conversation,” added McDonald.

Both the Aussie batsmen were back at the nets on what would have been the fifth day of the second Test trying to find a method to counter the leg-side theory.

The Aussie assistant coach admitted that the field placements have been changing constantly leaving the batsmen confused.

“We are working on it at the nets. We were back in the nets on what should have been the fifth day of the Test. That conversation has been going on. It won’t be any one thing in particular. The game ebbs and flows. Their tactics change suddenly. Sometimes they go out with two men out, sometimes they out with leg gully, sometimes they go with box mid-wicket, the bat-pad moves around with the angle. We are back Smith and Labuschagne to read that,” added McDonald.

The Australians were surprised by the turn that the MCG wicket gave to the Indian bowlers on the first day. Australia had won the toss and elected to bat but it turned out to be a nightmare.

Off-spinner R Ashwin was brought into attack by the Indians very early, in the 11th over, even as the third seamer Mohammed Siraj was not introduced till lunch-time. Ashwin responded with two quick wickets, of well-set Matthew Wade and Steve Smith.

“One of the things that surprised everyone was the Boxing Day surface, the wicket on Day One. We weren’t expecting the wicket to spin and (spin) to play a significant role at MCG on Day One. I think it surprised us all. It spun and bounced off the main part of the surface,” added McDonald and admitted that his team’s batsmen weren’t quick enough to combat the tactics and put pressure on certain bowlers.

“We weren’t probably quick enough to adapt to combat certain tactics. But the guys have been in good space, it will be just about the method and how they score runs. There will be moments where they will attack and absorb pressure. Sometimes you have to rein in, sometimes apply more pressure. No doubt our batters feel they could have put more pressure on certain bowlers,” McDonald added ahead of the third Test that begins on January 7 in Sydney and will be telecast live on Sony Six, Sony Ten 1 and Sony Ten 3 channels.