Plenty of speculation ahead of the series had centred on the bowling combination the tourists would choose in what are expected to be spin-friendly conditions. In going with just the one spinner — offie Lyon will have to rely on part-timers Michael Clarke and David Warner for back-up — the Aussies can be seen to have backed an area of strength — seam bowling — rather than go with a horses-for-courses approach.
This mirrors the choice England made during their recent tour of India, when they left out Monty Panesar for the first Test at Ahmedabad. Having lost that Test, they changed their combination for the remainder of the series — with Panesar and Graeme Swann forming a two-pronged spin attack — and won 2-1. Australia, however, do not have a second spinner of Panesar’s calibre in their squad.
First for moises
Henriques, meanwhile, has earned a new baggy green with impressive performances in both warm-up matches. In the two-day match against the Board President’s XI, he took four wickets, including three top-order batsmen in Abhinav Mukund, Mandeep Singh and Ambati Rayudu. In the second match against India A, he was the most economical Australian bowler with figures of 16-3-30-1, and batted aggressively against the spinners to score a 41-ball 33 that included three sixes.
The all-rounder’s first class averages with bat and ball — 30-61 and 27.07 — are those of a bowling all-rounder, but the 2012-13 season was his best ever with the bat, with 391 runs for New South Wales at 65.16 including three fifties and his maiden first class century.
Henriques could also be seen as filling the bowling shoes of Shane Watson -- who will bat at number four in the first Test, with David Warner deemed fit enough to bat with his fractured thumb in a splint -- who isn’t expected to bowl on this tour. Watson, whose style of bowling is similar to that of Henriques, has a good record with the ball on the subcontinent, with 19 wickets at 28.68. Australia may have been tempted to go in with Mitchell Johnson — a quicker, and more experienced fast-bowling option who is handy with the bat — instead of Henriques, but they already had one left-arm seamer in Starc and may have seen Henriques as a more reliable batsman and a steadier holding option with the ball.
four spinners for india?
In choosing to go with a seam-heavy attack, Australia are also adopting an approach that could be diametrically opposed to that of the hosts. With the slower bowlers enjoying plenty of success against an inexperienced Aussie line-up in the two warm-up games, India might well go with three specialist spinners in R Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha and Harbhajan Singh, backed up by the left-arm spin of Ravindra Jadeja. Such a clash of philosophies, were it to occur, could make for fascinating viewing.