To sweep or not to sweep: Practice at Kotla for Aussies

- February 20, 2023
| By : Khurram Habib |

Australian team stay put in Delhi to train at the Ferozeshah Kotla grounds as they prepare for the third Test in Indore. But will practice at Kotla pitches be ideal preparation for the Indore pitch?

at Cummins of Australia leads the team off the ground after they were defeated by India during day three of the Second Test match in the series between India and Australia at Arun Jaitley Stadium on February 19. (Photo: Getty)

After losing the second Test within three days following a poor display with the bat on the third day, the Australians will stay put in Delhi for about a week ahead of the third Test in Indore, largely working out in their hotel gym and occasionally practicing even as their skipper Pat Cummins has returned home to tend to an important family matter.

On the 24th and 25th though, the Australian team will use the practice pitches at the Ferozeshah Kotla grounds before leaving for Indore. A limited number of players will also be having bowling practice there on Tuesday, February 21. Indian team members have dispersed and they will rejoin in Indore.

“The Australians have asked for practice pitches on February 24 and 25 which we have provided them. We have a busy schedule for the ground even otherwise. We host the [Indian Premier League team] Lucknow Super Giants practice here from February 23 and then there is a match among the Supreme Court judges on February 25,” said Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) joint secretary Rajan Manchanda to Patriot.

There were a lot of controversies following the first Test after a report in pointed out that the visiting team was denied practice on the center wicket in Nagpur – the venue of the first Test — as the pitches were watered by the groundsmen immediately after the match.

The nets on Delhi pitches, however, may not help Australia except to get themselves back into rhythm and revisit the methods. Because according to information available with Patriot, the third Test will be played on pure red soil pitch and not the black soil pitch as was the case at the Kotla.

The Australians seemingly applied the methods meant to be used on the red soil surface instead of the black soil surface. This was what India skipper Rohit Sharma said after the end of the second Test.

“We were playing in Nagpur on red soil and here we were batting on black soil. Here the sweep was not a very good option. Stepping out to the spinners was probably the safer option. That is my view. All batters think differently about their batting and you just need to have confidence in the way you play,” said Sharma to the media after the match.

Most Australian batsmen fell trying to play cross-batted shots including sweeps and reverse sweeps.

“You need a technique to defend as well as attack including the shots down the ground, sweep and reverse sweep. All the boys playing for India have grown up playing all these shots and defending at the same time. On pitches like these, it is important to have confidence in your own technique. The preparation for that becomes crucial. Ahead of the Nagpur Test, we had 6-7 days and we utilised them really well. We worked on what shots to play and how to play them,” added Sharma.

Australian skipper Pat Cummins admitted to a question from Patriot that some batsmen went away from their methods.

“I thought they (Indian spinners) bowled really well. But a couple of our batsmen went away from their methods,” he said.

He also said, “Nagpur maybe underplayed it, we probably overplayed it here at times in the second innings.”