Fletcher calls for focus

2012-01-03 15:15
Duncan Fletcher (AFP)

Sydney - Coach Duncan Fletcher, feeling the heat over India's underwhelming batting in the series against Australia, said on Tuesday his star batsmen must try to concentrate for longer periods while at the crease.

India were bundled out for 191 after winning the toss on the opening day of the second Sydney Test after succumbing to a 122-run loss in last week's first Melbourne Test.

India's big-name batsmen have struggled against the Australian pace trio of James Pattinson, Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus and are on course for their sixth consecutive away Test defeat.

Since the disastrous England tour where they were mauled 4-0, India have amassed 300 just once in 11 Test innings and it is putting their bowling attack under considerable strain on the bouncy Australian pitches.

"I think you have to give Australian bowlers some credit. They bowled some really good lines today and put our batters under pressure," said Fletcher, a former England team coach.

"We were able to do that first up but (Ricky) Ponting and (Michael) Clarke batted well at the end.

"I think it's crucial that tomorrow we get back to those lines and lengths that we've spoken about before and put the Australian batters under the same pressure."

Australia with Clarke (47) and Ponting (44) doing it easy were just 75 runs in arrears after first day stumps at 116 for three and looking to build a solid innings lead on Wednesday's second day.

"If we can get them out for about the same score tomorrow, and that's not out of the question, then I think we can put them under pressure if we bat well in the second innings," Fletcher said.

Fletcher said the Indian batsmen had to adapt to leaving balls outside the off-stump and being more judicious with their shot-making.

"We've worked on that but at the end of the day you've got to be very careful that you leave balls that you can hit and that's a change that you have to adapt to quite quickly," he said.

"At times they've done that but you've got to make sure you concentrate for long periods of time if you are going to carry out that technique.

"Some batters it does pay to do that but with batters like Viru (Virender Sehwag) he's the kind of guy that if he clicks he can intimidate the opposition and then give us the base that we can work off."

Fletcher said the team mood remained upbeat despite the Australians' growing ascendancy in the early stages of the four-Test series.

"The mood in the changeroom has been very good. They've worked very hard in the nets and they're putting in the effort, they're trying their best, it's just sometimes in cricket you need a bit of good fortune," he said.

"You see Sachin (Tendulkar) today, how many times would you play on that width and normally he would put that through the covers for four?"


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