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I'll be surprised if India rest Bhajji for first Test: Clarke

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Australia vice-captain Michael Clarke is hopeful his team will be able to counter India's bowling attack in home conditions in a two-Test series starting on Friday.

While Michael CLarke (R) looks to continue his good show on teh Indian soil, Ricky Ponting (L) will be desperate to improve his record here.. © AFP
The hosts' attack has been strengthened with the return of left-arm paceman Zaheer Khan, who was forced to miss a recent three-Test series in Sri Lanka due to an injury.

"Zaheer and (paceman) Ishant Sharma are two very good bowlers of reverse swing. It can be very tough to combat at times and we have experienced that in the past," Clarke told reporters in Chandigarh on Tuesday.

"But we've been training and batting against reverse swing and against spin too. Hopefully, come Friday, we'll be able to do well."

Harbhajan Singh leads India's spin attack, having already given a good account of himself against the Australians with 79 wickets in 14 Tests.

The off-spinner rose to fame in 2001 when he took 32 wickets in three Tests against Steve Waugh's Australians to lead his side to a stunning 2-1 series victory at home.

"Every player plays spin differently. I think individually we all have a plan and it's all about trying to adapt to the pitch conditions and the bowler," said Clarke.

"I have a plan against the spinners and will try to stick to that. Hopefully, it works."

Australia, who lost the last Test series in India in 2008, will play the opening Test in Mohali and the second match in Bangalore (Oct 9-13). The Tests will be followed by three one-day internationals.

Harbhajan, who underwent an MRI scan for sprain on Monday, was expected to be fit for the match.

"I know how much he loves playing against Australia, so I'm pretty confident he will play," said Clarke.

"I will be very surprised if he doesn't play, so I am going to be preparing like he is going to. But of course, if he doesn't play it's a huge plus for us. He's a very good bowler and he has had a lot of success against Australia.

"He's always tough to face. He's always a great challenge and I really enjoy facing him because I think he is one of the best spinners in the world."

Clarke, who made a century on Test debut against India in Bangalore in 2004, said he had been trying to be more consistent in recent years.

"I think when I first started playing international cricket I wasn't nearly as consistent as I have been over the last 12 to 24 months," said Clarke, who has scored 4,514 runs in 62 Tests.

"That's one part of my game that has improved. I probably took more risks when I was younger, but consistency and shot-selection allow you to have success over a long period of time."