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."
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."
Only 30 runs in that first hour but you will go a long way to see better batting by a pair of Australians on as difficult a surface as this one #INDvAUS
— Daniel Brettig 🏏 (@danbrettig) March 2, 2023
Ashwin provides breatkthrough after Green and Handscomb had ground out an hour and more with dour defence. Aus strategy to bat as long as possible can only have high value if runs also keep coming. If lead restricted to 110-120, India remain in the game
— Cricketwallah (@cricketwallah) March 2, 2023
Peter Handscomb has been sensational so far. Stretching forward to defend and going back when the length demands ... Agreed the pitch isn't doing as much as the first session of day one but this is top-drawer batting against spin. The lead is slowly creeping towards 100
— Ayan (@ayan_acharya13) March 2, 2023
Growing up in India we used to play a game called "French Cricket" This involved standing in the crease in a tightly marked circle and using the bat with minimal feet movement to keep the ball out. Handscomb has elevated that to Test cricket here.#INDvAUS
— Anand Vasu (@anandvasu) March 2, 2023
Handscomb was way too slow. He could easily have tried to be a little proactive, add atleast 20-30 runs more.
— Cracked 🇮🇳🏴 (@cricket_bowl) March 2, 2023
Handscomb should learn from him. You just can't defend every balls.
— JustMyThoughts (@shaibal_27) March 2, 2023
Handscomb has to learn the same thing . You just can't defend and defend on this pitch. You should show some intent
— Sahil Patter (@Sahil25Patter) March 2, 2023
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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