Tackling Mitchell Johnson; remaining fit throughout series key for India in Oz

By Chaitan Papnai | Last Updated: Dec 04, 2014, 00:05 AM IST

Once the rescheduled four-match Test series between India and Australia starts, the biggest challenge for the Indian team would be to tackle the deadly speedster Mitchell Johnson. Since the return Ashes, he has certainly been in the form of his life and is undoubtedly the most feared bowler in world cricket at the moment.

He is capable of destroying the best of batting units with the help of pace he possesses and the awkward bounce he gets from his unconventional action. If India want to change their reputation of being considered as bad tourists, they have to come out with a plan that can at least subdue Johnson’s effect, if not entirely kill it. If India manage to handle the speedster well at Adelaide, it might set the tone for the visitors for the rest of the series.

If you are playing against the Kangaroos, one thing you need to have is a bit of aggression within. But one should also know how to channelize it in favour of the team. Most of the players in the comparatively young Indian side have that nature of giving it back, which might work in their favour. But along with aggression, a right attitude and fighting spirit would also be the key for success Down Under.

In the opening Test, Virat Kohli is likely to lead the side for the very first time in whites, as regular skipper MS Dhoni is recovering from an injury. It might prove to be a blessing in disguise for Team India, as Kohli is a naturally an aggressive cricketer and one can expect him to take some bold decisions on the ground.

As far as Indian batting line up is concerned, they have players like Ajinkya Rahane, Murali Vijay, Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Rohit Sharma, who are capable of playing big knocks in this format. But they just need to put a high price tag on their wickets as they have the calibre, temperament and technique required to play on swift and bouncy tracks.

But as they say, to win a Test match, a team has to scalp twenty wickets, so the onus would be on Indian bowlers as well, to bowl the Aussies out twice in a match.

In this tour, along with Mohammed Shami and Bhuvenshwar Kumar, India also have three genuine quick bowers in Ishant Sharma, Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav, who are best suited to the Australian pitches. In fact, Aaron was immensely praised by many, for his impressive bowling on the opening day of the first practice match against Cricket Australia XI. But the only issue that might haunt India later in the tour would be the fitness of their speedsters as some of them have been prone to injuries.

However, another factor that might go in India’s favour is that Australian skipper Michael Clarke is not fully fit and is doubtful for the opening Test.

But on the other hand, if skipper Dhoni wants to improve his dismal away Test record, then it is high time he should change his strategies in Tests and should take a few chances, and be more aggressive rather than playing with a defensive mind set.

India will play the four-match Test series, followed by a triangular ODI series during their Oz sojourn. And as the ICC World Cup is just round the corner, it would probably be the best time for Indian players to get used to these wickets, as the tournament is also scheduled to take place in the Trans-Tasman nations, early next year. But being injury free before the mega event should be the priority for players during their nearly two-month long stay in Australia.