Justin Langer hopes Australia can level series at bouncy Perth
Justin Langer, the Australia coach. (AFP Image)

Adelaide Test done and dusted, Australia coach Justin Langer is focussing ahead on the next contest in Perth starting Friday. This will be India’s first game at the new Perth Stadium, and the surface is expected to generate some serious pace and bounce, the prospect of which excites Langer.

The pitch at Perth, like Adelaide, is also a drop-in surface and the former Australia opener hopes his fast bowlers are able to exploit the bouncy nature in order to level the series having lost the openers by 31 runs on Monday. As per pitch curator Brett Sipthorpe, the surface will be grassy, and in all likelihood, the team winning the toss will put the opposition in.

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“I’m really fascinated and can’t wait to see what the Optus wicket brings,” he said on Tuesday (December 11). “I went and watched a bit of the game, NSW versus WA. Certainly, some pace and bounce. We’ve (also) seen some pace and bounce in it during the one-dayers and T20 game.

“Again, it’s an unprecedented period – the first Test match on a drop-in wicket in Perth at the new stadium. Time will tell what the wicket brings. Hopefully that’s what it is traditionally at the WACA, that’s what we’ve talked about for a long time, pace and bounce. If we can get that, it’d be a great thing for Test cricket.”

An interesting fact that emerged after the Adelaide Test was that even though Australia lost, they batted pout more overs than India – 210 overs in comparison to the hosts’ 194.5. Following the finish, Virat Kohli had underlined the importance of his batsmen occupying the crease for longer duration to put more pressure on the bowlers. Echoing the India captain’s thoughts, even Langer understands the need for his batsmen to bat better and longer. Another factor that both coaches will keep in mind is to provide rest to the players after a taxing first Test.

“They [the pacemen] have had a couple days off, would’ve had three or four days off, India are in exactly the same situation,” he said. “It’s probably the one area where we just felt we’re not wearing down the Indian bowlers enough in this Test match. It’s going to be hot on Friday, it’ll be an important toss I would imagine, and there’s always working out that balance, but hopefully on a wicket conducive to a bit of swing and seam, the bowlers will get the job done.

“On the one hand the youth helps us because they’ll have the physical energy, but it’s mentally very taxing playing Test cricket. I said that to Marcus Harris this morning, ‘mate when you play 100 Test matches, Test cricket’s really tiring’. It’s something we’re aware of, we’ll work it out over the next few days, training will probably look a lot different at this time of the year than perhaps we’ve seen in the past.”

Australia showed terrific fight in the second innings, to almost give India a scare when its tail wagged and seemed to be walking away from the game. But despite their spirited effort, Langer credited India for being the better of the two sides while admitting that Australia were outplayed.

“India outplayed us, there’s no doubt about that, there was no point in the game where I felt we were on top of India, to their great credit they were more patient than us, they bowled really well,” Langer said. “We got close, which shows great fighting spirit. In two out of the last three Tests, the team’s shown great fighting spirit to draw in Dubai and we just lost yesterday. We’re getting closer with this young team.

“The wicket was really tough to score on. If you look at India, Virat Kohli got 30 in 120 balls or something, that’s telling you something. There was no plan to bat slowly, just how the game went. India bowled well, we bowled equally as well in the first innings and it was hard to bat on with the slow outfield.”