Former Australia captain Michael Clarke believes India would be a tough proposition in Bengaluru, venue for the second Test of the four-match Test series against India, unlike Pune where winning the toss worked in the favour of Steve Smith’s men.
“India will be tougher for Australia to beat in Bengaluru than in Pune. If India would’ve won toss and batted in Pune, I don’t know if result would’ve been the same,” Clarke told India Today TV.
He said that the first innings score is pivotal in India and anything under 450 runs is not good enough to get the job done. “In India, the first innings total is critical. If you get a good first innings score of 450 or more, it doesn’t matter who wins the toss. How you bat in the first innings, that dictates the game. So getting more runs in the first innings should be the focus for both teams.”
Despite that, Clarke added that Australia’s 265 against India in the opening Test on a difficult Pune pitch was a ‘very good score’. “We have seen that in Pune, Australia made 265 which is a very good score on a tough wicket, India went on to make 105, so mainly the Test match was over after the first innings. Australia had a lead of 150 or more, it was always a tough task for India to chase in the second innings of a Test match.”
With plenty of focus on the pitch for the second Test, Clarke expects the wicket to deteriorate over last two days. “In sub-continent, it feels like the game is moving quite slowly over the first three days, so then the final two days when the wicket does deteriorate, the ball starts spinning more with inconsistent bounce and pace, then it starts troubling the batsmen.”
Clarke emphasised on four players that India need to focus on in order to pick up a win. “India need to combat four big players in the Australian team — (Steve) Smith, (David) Warner, (Mitchell) Starc and (Josh) Hazlewood. India now know they have to be at their best to beat Australia,” he said.
With five lives for Steve Smith, that allowed him to score 109 runs in the second innings of the first Test, Clarke called India to be better in the fielding department. “Hang on to your catches otherwise Smith will make a hundred.”
With pressure on the likes of Ajinkya Rahane and Ishant Sharma to perform after a poor show, Clarke had words of support for the duo. “Rahane is a terrific player, India will give him another opportunity. He’s earned that right. Ishant deserves to be in this team. He is a wonderful bowler, bowled really well against England,” he stated.