Matthew Hayden calls out Peter Handscomb over 'un-Australian' act

The Aussie cricket great was critical of Peter Handscomb's innings in the third Test against India.

Matthew Hayden, pictured here alongside Peter Handscomb.
Matthew Hayden was critical of Peter Handscomb's innings in the third Test against India. Image: Getty

Aussie cricket great Matthew Hayden has criticised Peter Handscomb's go-slow approach in the third Test against India, describing it as 'almost un-Australian'. Handscomb was at the crease with Cameron Green when the second day's play began on Thursday, with Australia looking to increase their lead with as many runs as possible.

But Handscomb got tied down by some accurate Indian bowling and was eventually dismissed for 19 off 98 balls. The Aussie batter looked to defend nearly every single ball offered to him, waiting for a bad delivery to play an attacking shot.

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The only problem was that he didn't get many bad balls to put away and was unable to rotate the strike, content with seeing off maiden after maiden. His dismissal sparked a collapse of 6-11 for the Aussies, leading to some criticism from Hayden that he should have made more runs considering the time he spent at the crease.

“He was very, very defensive with his mindset,” Hayden said in commentary. “His strike rate of under 20 means that you are not going anywhere, and the scoreboard is not going anywhere, and that’s a product of some really tough batting conditions … he was sort of like a sitting duck in many ways.

“It’s almost un-Australian. I don’t want anyone out there to think that I’m overly criticising Pete, I’m not. It’s just not quite attacking enough. It’s such a tricky balance.”

Co-commentator Dinesh Karthik added: “His approach right now in India has been he’s going to wait for the bad ball, defend everything. He’s not going to attack because he feels the wicket is going to do something.

“It’s an interesting tactic, all of the other Australian batters have gone the other way. He’s trusting his defence. It’s given him success in a few innings."

Peter Handscomb, pictured here in action for Australia in the third Test against India.
Peter Handscomb in action for Australia in the third Test against India. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Handscomb has arguably been one of Australia's best batters so far this series, making 31 in the first Test and 72 not out in the second. However his defensive approach in the third Test left fans and commentators divided.

While some praised the Aussie batter for lasting so long and making the Indian bowlers toil in such tricky conditions, others agreed that he should have had more runs to show for his 98-ball knock. Many felt that Handscomb left the tourists in a hole and should have had his side in front of the game more.

Journalist Lachlan McKirdy tweeted: "Brilliant innings from Handscomb, but felt he was a bit too happy just batting out maidens. Needed to look to rotate the strike a bit more. The wicket ball was always coming."

Nathan Lyon puts Australia in sight of third Test victory

Australia collapsed from 4-186 to be all out for 197, taking an 88-run lead into the second innings. The Aussies would have been kicking themselves that their lead wasn't higher, but Nathan Lyon made up for the lost runs with an incredible display with the ball.

The Aussie spinner took 8-64 as Australia bowled India out for 163, leaving them with 76 for victory on Friday. Anything less than a target of 100 was a huge win for Australia, but any chase will be tricky on a wearing pitch offering plenty of spin and inconsistent bounce.

"I'm just really proud of the way we've gone about it," Lyon said after Australia were thrashed in the first two matches. "Personal success is great to have but after Delhi we had a couple of really good days off as a team, and really good conversations at training.

"I'm more really proud of the way we've gone about it as a collective group. Certainly it's up there as one of my career highlights, but I'm more proud about our group."

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