Mitchell Starc bounced back with five wickets in Perth which the hosts won by 146 runs. @ AFP
Mitchell Starc bounced back with five wickets in Perth which the hosts won by 146 runs. @ AFP

Australia pacer Mitchell Starc is ready to face what the pitch at the Melbourne Cricket Ground has to offer when the third Test against India gets underway on December 26. The MCG pitch had been deemed poor by the ICC following the Ashes Test series which ended in a draw.

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Curator at the MCG, Matt Page is believed to inject more life in the drop-in wicket by putting a layer of sand between the concrete base and the pitch trays and will leave more grass on the pitch. However, Starc, who bounced back with five wickets in Perth which the hosts won by 146 runs, reckons conditions remain a mystery.

“I don’t know what to expect,” Starc was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo on Wednesday.

“I didn’t play last year. I had to watch from the side and it didn’t do a thing for five days so hopefully they’ve sorted it out. It sounds like they’ve been trying a few things with the Shield cricket there in the first few rounds.

“I think it may be a surprise, what they actually dish out next week, but I think we’ll just sort of review this week and enjoy a moment of reflecting on the hard work we’ve had to do this week and then we’ll focus on Melbourne when we get there.”

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A lot of Australia’s runs have been scored by the tail, which has been a significant factor in the series. “It’s an interesting one,” Starc said.

“It’s something that we all work really hard at and we have done for a long time. Pat’s [Pat Cummins] obviously fantastic at eight. He plays a bit more like a batter than the other three of us he can bat for long periods of time.

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“I think it just showed in Adelaide how many balls he can face and really he looks comfortable at the crease. He may not at times feel that way but he looks very comfortable and, when he’s batting with someone like Painey [Tim Paine] or other batsmen, it’s just fantastic. Those partnerships make India bowl a lot more overs and then the other three of us we just try and hang around a bit and score a few runs and face a few balls.

“It’s something that I think our tail takes a lot of pride in. And then with the ball we’re trying to do the exact opposite for them and try to get them out really quickly.”

To put things in perspective. Austarlia’s Nos. 8-11 have scored 227 runs off 520 balls in the opening two Tests, while India’s have made 51 off 228 deliveries.

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“They had a longer tail this week,” Starc said.

“Obviously bringing in an extra fast bowler, I guess someone like a Bhuvneshwar Kumar or a Ravindra Jadeja who probably bat a bit better than perhaps maybe Umesh Yadav did this week, could have made things interesting – or another spinner.

“But I think we probably over attacked a little bit in Adelaide and so I think we learned from that in the second innings in Adelaide and then this week. It was obviously a different wicket, we bowled a little bit differently to the tail this week.

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“We probably repaid a few favours which they did to us in the third innings, so it’ll be a different story again next week I guess in Melbourne depending on what the wicket is.”