Mohali: Virender Sehwag’s pyrotechnics with the bat give Indian cricket team an edge as the flamboyant batsman takes the pressure off his middle-order colleagues by scoring at a fast pace, Australian coach Tim Nielsen said on Wednesday.
“Sehwag’s performances at the top of the order has had a damaging effect on opposition teams. His aggressive approach has helped the likes of Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman to play freely.
“It obviously helps when you get quick 90 or a 100 from Sehwag and batsmen coming after him are able to build their innings on that foundation,” Nielsen told the reporters after Australia’s morning practice session at the PCA Stadium on Wednesday.
Contrary to popular notion that Indian bowling attack is not capable of taking 20 wickets if the conditions are not conducive, Nielsen feels that Zaheer Khan and Co. are a consistent bowling unit.
“After Sehwag sets it up, India have very capable bowler in Zaheer Khan. Also you have Harbhajan Singh who has more than 300 Test wickets. Ishant Sharma has also been pretty impressive when he first came onto the scene against Australia in 2007.
“He made quite an impact in the final two Test matches of that series. May be he hasn’t quite been the wicket-taking bowler that he was but he is capable of producing some good spells,” the coach said.
The coach is also not perturbed that skipper Ricky Ponting has never really got going on previous tours to India.
“I have never seen Ricky as motivated and fit as he is now. He knows only too well that he will be remembered if he plays well. He has no niggles. In fact he has never been as good as he is now on the second phase of his career,” Nielsen said.
The visiting coach is also hopeful that Michael Hussey and Doug Bollinger – both of whom joined late as they were playing in the Champions League Twenty20 for Chennai Super Kings – will be able to recover from their long journey and be fit for the first Test starting from Friday.
“Obviously they are a bit behind time but they had a bat and bowl today. They looked positive. We will take a call tomorrow as to how their body response to rigours of training after having played quite a few matches and had a long journey,” Nielsen said.
He also admitted that there is a bit of inexperience in their team but they would fancy their chances against the Indians.
“I wouldn’t term our team to be very inexperienced. Lot of our boys have been playing for 5-6 years. We are missing an experienced wicketkeeper in Brad Haddin but Tim Paine has played quite a few one-day matches,” he reasoned.
The coach is also impressed with rookie Peter George who bowled well in the first innings against the Board President’s XI.
“He is a bowler of Glenn McGrath mould. He is not express pace but is capable of extracting a lot of bounce. He has to be consistent and can turn out to be a good bowler for Australia in coming matches.”