One of the most notable things during India’s eventual Test series win against Australia was the manner in which the visiting bowlers strangled the Australian batsmen including Steve Smitha and Marnus Labuschagne in the leg-side trap.
Whether it was the pacers or the spinners, everyone reaped huge rewards via the consistent implementation of the ploy. Indian bowling coach Bharat Arun has revealed that the plan was devised by him and the coaching staff-led by Ravi Shastri as early as last July.
The move worked to full effect against the likes of Marnus Labuschagne and especially Steve Smith, who consistently struggled against the ploy throughout the four-Test rubber.
“Ravi called me sometime in July and we were discussing the Australia tour, that we needed to take the off side out of the Australians. So, we had our own analysis and we felt most of the runs Smith and Labuschagne scored and most of Ausssie batsmen, they had got lot of runs out of the cut, pull and on the off side,” the 58-year-old said.
New Zealand pacer Neil Wagner had employed bodyline stuff against Steve Smith with great success last Australian summer, and Bharat Arun revealed that they took the cue from there and went about plotting the Australian batsmen’s downfall.
“We took a cue out of the NZ attack. When they bowled to Steve Smith, they had bowled bodyline to him and he felt very uncomfortable,” Bharat Arun revealed.
“So, Ravi called up and said ”I want you to make a plan where you eliminate the offside out of the Australians. He said we would attack straighter lines and have an on-side field so it is very difficult for batsmen to be consistently clearing the onside fields. That really worked for us.” Bharat Arun said.
Arun added that the plan was further communication to skipper Virat Kohli and the Ajinkya Rahane, which the duo and the bowlers implemented with great effect throughout the rubber.
“The thought process started sometime in July then we had discussions with Virat. He bought into the theory and we employed the same strategy in Adelaide and Ajinkya was magnificent from Melbourne onwards. The bowlers responded beautifully to that,” added the bowling coach.