Ian Healy has lashed out after Australia's attempts to get some much-needed practice ahead of the second Test against India came unstuck on Sunday when groundsmen sabotaged their planned session in Nagpur. The Aussies copped a humiliating loss by an innings and 132 runs in the first Test, giving India a 1-0 lead in the series.
Before the Aussies travel to Delhi for the second Test starting on Friday, they decided to return to the scene of their Nagpur nightmare and booked a training session at VCA Stadium on Sunday. However when they arrived at the ground they discovered that the centre wicket and nets were too wet because the groundsmen had watered them.
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Australia tried to inform ground staff on Saturday to hold off on watering the pitches as they intended to still use them. However the message clearly didn't get through.
The tourists were forced to scrap the training session and lick their wounds elsewhere ahead of their trip to Delhi on Tuesday. However they remained hopeful that they could still train on Monday in Nagpur before departing the 'Orange City'.
“It’s really embarrassing the scuppering of our plans to get some practice sessions on that Nagpur wicket,” Aussie legend Healy said on SEN radio on Monday, describing the move as 'pathetic'. “That’s not good, that’s just not good for cricket.
"The ICC needs to step in here. For them to water the wicket unceremoniously when it was requested for practice is horrible and that has to improve.”
Australia's batters were completely bamboozled by Ravi Jadeja and Ravi Ashwin in the first Test, bowled out for just 91 in the second innings. Speaking on Sunday, Aussie coach Andrew McDonald urged his side to be brave in the face of India's potent spinning threat.
"I think it's the pressure that builds up when you get behind 200-plus runs in the game," McDonald told reporters. "You feel as though my only way out of this is to take my time and defend.
"If you're not proactive, as I said if you allow the bowler to take it to you, with catches around the bat, then something's going to happen. I thought Steve Smith summed it up really well after he came off and said we're going to have to be brave, take some risks, take the ball down the ground, push some fielders out and give ourselves the ability to rotate the strike."
Pat Cummins confident Aussies can turn it around
Australia's loss was just the second under Pat Cummins' captaincy. However the skipper is confident his side still has the ability to win Australia's first series in India since 2004.
"Everyone came with pretty clear plans," Cummins said on Saturday. "The challenge is, under the furnace to be brave enough to be proactive at the time. That will be the conversation over the next couple of days."
The Aussies are facing a number of selection headaches heading into the second Test, with Cameron Green and Mitchell Starc nearing full fitness and Travis Head looking as an option to come back into the side. Head was controversially left out of the XI for the first Test, but could reportedly come back in at the top of the order for the struggling David Warner.
Queensland spinner Matthew Kuhnemann is also a big chance to play as a third spinner after replacing Mitchell Swepson in the squad. Swepson has flown home to Australia to be at the birth of his first child.
If Green is fit to play he will likely replace Matt Renshaw at No.6 and give the Aussies the option of playing a third spinner due to his ability to bowl seam-up. "We feel as though with the balance of the squad we wanted four spinners here - two going in, two going away," McDonald said on Sunday.
"That was heavily discussed if we needed a spinner to go the other way so Matt comes in with Mitch going home to see (partner) Jess. He's (Kuhnemann) a live chance to play in the next Test match. If we play three spinners then we clearly want back-up here and available in the squad if that's the way we want to go."
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