Former Australia cricketer who had a tumultuous stint as coach of the Indian team, Greg Chappell has advised off-spinner Nathan Lyon to take a leaf out of what former India spinner Erapalli Prasanna, whom he called "arguably the best off-spinner of all-time. Chappel highlighted how Prasanna would go about his business, bowling on the subcontinet wickets.
Lyon's plan for India's formidable
Lyon is Australia's premier spinner, racking up 460 wickets in 115 matches, averaging 31.65. In 13 innings on tour in India, Lyon has 34 Test scalps and averages 30.58. With pitches in the country to be spin-friendly ahead of the 2023 Border-Gavaskar Trophy starting from February 9, Lyon emerges as a key figure for Australia.
In his column for The Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday, Chappell wrote about his advice to Lyon through him picking the brains of Prasanna over dinner at Bengaluru back in 2006, which he called "a memorable master class in the art of finger spin bowling."
"I asked him what was his plan for a new batsman. He said he would spin the ball hard, try to hit him on the pads often, get him thinking about the spinning ball, and then trap him on the crease with a straight one, he said with a cheeky grin. Line, he said, was optional, length was mandatory."
Lyon should learn the Prasana way
"Prasanna had "the other one" before anyone knew what a doosra was. He explained to me that he would lay the seam a bit flatter than for the traditional off-spinner and then impart a higher number of rotations on the ball that would make the ball drift like an off-spinner but, once it landed on the leather, it would skid on with the arm giving the impression that it had gone "the other way". As the leader of the spin attack, Nathan Lyon will need to take pages out of his book and show the way."
Close catchers crucial
Considering the spin-friendly pitches in India, Chappell pointed out that catching in the slips would be critical for Australia. "Labuschagne and Smith are brilliant catchers, but one or two others will have to spend a lot of time close to the bat, which is demanding if you are not used to it. The Indian close catchers create wickets for their spinners with their anticipation and agility which Australia will do well to replicate."
Chappell, a former India head coach, also noted that venues for the four-match series have been chosen very well. "Rahul Dravid will be keen to see how Australia cope with the lack of bounce, allied with spin. Delhi and Dharamshala will suit India more than Australia."
Batting strategy needs to be altered
"On the slower pitches, Indian batters are better suited as they stay low and generate pace square of the wicket with wristy shots. Hitting across the line is a risky pursuit in these conditions."
"Australians who are used to the extra bounce to generate pace with the bottom hand consequently struggle on the slower, lower pitches. Nagpur is a red soil pitch on which batting is best on the first three days unless they produce a raging turner."
"Delhi and Dharamshala will be a fortress for India. In Ahmedabad there are red as well as black soil pitches and the state of the series will dictate what India order."
Chappell signed off by saying Australia will have to quickly adapt to the conditions on offer in the series. "Visiting teams are often fooled by a game that seems to be going nowhere but suddenly changes at a frenetic pace."
"The Indians are used to this, so Australia will need to adapt quickly with the mind, bat and ball. Attrition takes a huge toll on touring teams. If India are in the contest on day five, they will win."
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