North and Hauritz a worry for Ponting after first Test defeat
Marcus North and Nathan Hauritz are the biggest concerns for Ricky Ponting after his Australian side lost by one wicket to a VVS Laxman inspired India in Mohali.
Hauritz, who regained the spinner spot after missing the two-match series with Pakistan in England this summer through injury, bowled poorly as Laxman guided the hosts from 124-8 to their victory target of 216 with just one wicket remaining.
North, who made scores of 0 and ten in the match, even appeared to be preferred to Huaritz with his part-time off-spin as the winning runs were scored.
The left-hander took a sensational six-wicket haul to help Australia beat Pakistan at Lord’s in July but his batting has been on the slide since he made 110 in Australia’s Ashes victory at Headingley in 2009.
The Australian selectors appear reluctant to alter the make-up of their side with just the second Test in Bangalore between now and the first Ashes Test in Brisbane in November.
Hauritz is used to his place in the team being placed under scrutiny and has reacted well throughout his albeit brief career, impressing against Pakistan last Australian summer – helping to win the controversial Sydney Test.
With the next match now a must win game for the Aussies however, they may be forced to show their hand and throw a second spinner, Steve Smith, into the fold.
Smith played in Hauritz’s place in England as a leg-spinning all-rounder and has the potential to bat either at No.6 or 7 on what is likely to be a batsman’s paradise at Bangalore.
North will be desperate for another opportunity but Ponting might be grateful for the extra bowling of Smith as he tries to conjure a winning formula.
Even if the series were to end in defeat for Australia, they will seek solace in the impressive efforts of their seam attack, who came close to snatching victory from the Indian’s.
Defending a paltry 216 after Australia collapsed in their second innings, the trio of Hilfenhaus, Bollinger and Johnson extracted a surprising amount of life from an otherwise typical sub-continent pitch.
Shane Watson too continued to prove the doubters wrong with a century and half-century at the top of the order while Tim Payne’s stylish batting will keep injured regular gloveman Brad Haddin on his toes.