Mitchell Johnson is expected to be the spearhead of Australian bowling © Getty Images
Mitchell Johnson is expected to be the spearhead of Australian bowling © Getty Images

There are pressing arguments in favour of Australia playing four fast bowlers against India in the first Test at the Gabba, Brisbane. Nathan Lyon, the off-spinner, may find himself out of contention for the first game as the Aussies would want to put pressure upfront. Nishad Pai Vaidya writes about the possibility of India playing a four-pronged pace attack.

Should Australia play four fast bowlers in the first Test against India at the Gabba, Brisbane? Allan Border, the Aussie legend, has suggested that Australia could drop off-spinner Nathan Lyon and put pressure on India with pace. The debate has been doing the rounds for a while considering Lyon’s struggle in recent times and India’s vulnerability against quality pace in helpful conditions. Darren Lehmann, the Australian coach, is playing his cards close to his chest and is in no mood to reveal any plans.

For starters, Lyon has had a very tough time off late. In his last three Tests. He has taken only three wickets. Pakistan dominated him in the Test series in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Indian batsmen grow on a heavy dose of spin and dealing with Lyon on a track like the Gabba may allow them a release and offer respite from the pacemen. Border’s arguments make a lot of sense when you bring that into perspective. Lyon may not have an effect on the Brisbane wicket against India, even though Lehmann says they may make the call after looking at the conditions.

It is imperative for Australia to put pressure on India from the outside. India would be without skipper MS Dhoni, which would mean that they would play a very inexperienced batting line-up in the first Test at the Gabba. Australia would want to seize the initiative from the outset similar to the Ashes 2013-14. Back then, they unleashed Mitchell Johnson 2.0 against the Englishmen and left them scarred for the series. The tourists were left shocked and couldn’t recover for the rest of the series.

Australia would do well to employ a similar tactic against India in the first Test. Playing that spinner gives the batsmen the chance to get themselves in, play out the pacers and attack the tweaker. If Australia play four fast bowlers, India will have no respite from the heat. Johnson is undoubtedly the leader of the pack. On the odd occasion, during the One-Day International (ODI) series in India last year, Johnson hurried the batsmen with pace. At home, he would have a lot more assistance and can test them further.

Australia then have to choose the rest of the bowling attack. They have Peter Siddle and Ryan Harris has returned to full fitness. The only questions would be over the fourth spot with numerous contenders in the fray. Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins are some of the options Australia may mull ahead of that Test match. Picking that fourth pacer would be an important call for the selectors as they would want to put India on the backfoot immediately. Plus, there would be a Shane Watson to back them up with a fifth bowling option.

Meanwhile, Glenn McGrath has predicted a 4-0 whitewash in store for India. The mind games have already begun. When are the Indians joining in?

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)