x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Ponting is facing a bowler crisis

The Australians have made a winning start to the seven-match one-day international series but their camp was far from buoyant ahead of the second game in Nagpur.

Ricky Ponting, the Australia captain, will be hoping his reserve bowlers can stand up and deliver in the second match against India.
Ricky Ponting, the Australia captain, will be hoping his reserve bowlers can stand up and deliver in the second match against India.

The Australians have made a winning start to the seven-match one-day international series but their camp was far from buoyant ahead of the second game in Nagpur. The captain Ricky Ponting had a big problem on his hands with three bowlers falling by the wayside early into the gruelling tour.

The bowlers had India in trouble in the first match but struggled to close out the game and went on to labour to a narrow four-run win in the last over. To make things worse, Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson and all-rounder James Hopes have been sidelined with niggling injuries. Though Moises Henriques has been drafted in as cover, the serious lack of bowling depth prompted the coach Tim Nielsen to clutch on to every slender hope.

"Brett is certainly out of tomorrow's game but Johnson has woken up a lot better this morning than we thought he would be when we drafted the media release yesterday evening [that said both are out]," said Nielsen. "We will see how he pulls up through the training session and all the indications are that he might well be available tomorrow morning," the coach added. "At this stage, Mitchell is not completely out. Brett is probably out for one and we expect Hopes to probably miss the next two games. It is part and parcel of the game," Nielsen added.

He was optimistic in having Johnson available even though Andrew Hilditch, the chief selector admitted that both Lee (right elbow) and Johnson (left ankle) had both responded well to treatment but had not recovered enough to play today. Henriques, the New South Wales all-rounder, should replace Hopes, who has already been ruled out for at least two matches with a right hamstring strain. "Given the most significant injury appears to be Hopes' hamstring, we have taken this opportunity to add Moises Henriques to the squad until the completion of game four in Mohali, where we will again assess the situation before it is decided if he remains with the squad," said Hilditch.

"While the injury situation is disappointing, it does provide an opportunity for Moises to join the Australian squad and become familiar in this environment." Henriques will barely have time to acclimatise after a long flight to New Delhi and then to the VCA stadium venue before he takes the field in the day-night encounter. Nielsen, meanwhile, admitted that the squad's bowling was a lot less experienced than they wpould have liked. "It was a bit of a scatter-bomb [in the first game]. I mean I don't remember a team losing three bowlers in one day. It was an unusual circumstance," Nielsen said.

"We certainly are inexperienced in that area. If Mitchell and Brett cannot play then we are losing about 300 matches in ODIs in terms of their experience. And we are talking about six or seven games between Ben Hilfenhaus and Doug Bollinger." * With agencies