Scott Boland is not shying away from the fact that his prospects look bleak for the rest of the Test series in India. The luckless Aussie fast bowler failed to bag a wicket in the humiliating first Test loss against India in Nagpur, in which his side was belted by an innings and 132 runs.
That is not to say that Boland was disappointing against India, with the Victorian quick's figures of 0-34 from 17 overs highlighting the difficulty the home side's batters had in scoring off the paceman. Boland found the outside edge of India's batters on more than one occasion and he could have easily ended up amongst the wickets in Nagpur.
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However, the 33-year-old cult hero - who made his first Test appearance outside of Australia in the Border-Gavaskar series opener - knows that his place is in jeopardy due to Mitchell Starc's expected return to the starting XI for the second Test in Delhi. Starc has been one of Australia's main strike bowlers for years, and looks to have overcome a finger injury that kept him out of the first Test.
“I felt like I contributed to our game plan and had a pretty good spell in conjunction with Toddy (Murphy) a couple of times, so I’m pretty happy with how they came out,” Boland said. “I felt like I bowled well, but when you’re bringing in someone like Mitchell Starc, who’s a gun in these conditions and bowled really well in Sri Lanka and Pakistan... hopefully I made the selectors’ job a little bit tougher than what it originally was.”
Another player hoping to return to the side is allrounder Cameron Green, who was also missing from the first Test after failing to overcome his own finger injury in time. Green's inclusion would give the Aussies another pace option and potentially allow the tourists to bring in Queensland spinner Matt Kuhnemann, who has flown in to Delhi to replace Mitchell Swepson - his fellow tweaker who's returned home for the birth of his child.
The other big selection decision for Australia is likely to centre around Travis Head, with many fans left perplexed that one of Australia's most in-form batters over the last 12 months was dropped for the first Test. Reports from NewsCorp have emerged that Head is being considered at the top of the Aussie batting order at the expense of veteran David Warner, who made 1 and 10 in the first Test in Nagpur and averages just over 22 in his career in India.
While Boland could consider himself unlucky if he does miss out on playing in the second Test, the paceman admits that the wickets in India are not likely to do him or his fellow quick many favours. In a sad admission on his own behalf, the Victorian lamented the fact that spin undoubtedly holds the key to victory in India.
“I assume all the wickets are going to be pretty similar; I’m not sure they’re going to give us any pace through the middle of the wicket,” Boland said. “If you look from their point of view, their spin dominated, they played our spinners pretty well, so I reckon they’re going to be looking for the same kind of wicket. As a fast bowler you just want one thing of pace, seam, swing and there’s not really any of them.”
Third Test venue change another blow for Aussies
The Aussies were dealt a further blow on Monday when the ICC stripped Dharamsala of hosting the third Test on what would have been the most pace-friendly wicket for Australia in the four-Test series. The governing body of Indian cricket, the BCCI, said the outfield was deemed unfit for use and that an alternate venue would be used.
Aside from Australia's concerns with the ball, their inability to build any partnerships of note with the bat were of bigger concern against India in the first Test. No batter made a half century in either innings in Nagpur and Australia's second innings total of 91 was the country's lowest ever in a series in India.
Boland admitted that Australia's bowling group had a role to play in supporting the top order batters, after seeing the effectiveness of India's lower order against his side in the series opener. The paceman said he and the bowlers had resolved to show more grit and try to frustrate India’s bowlers after the four tailenders managed only 18 runs between them at an average of 2.57 in Nagpur.
“I think all the bowlers, we love batting and as a bowler, when you’re bowling to the lower order and can’t get them out, it gets frustrating,” he added. “Our job going forward is to hopefully put in some partnerships with the batters if there is a batter still in and try to keep them in for a bit longer.”
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