Cricket-Australia batsmen must ‘grind’ to thwart India’s plans: Labuschagne

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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE, Jan.1 (Reuters) – Australian batsmen must balance aggression and discipline to fight India in the third test in Sydney after being pinned down by their bowlers in the first two matches, number three Marnus Labuschagne said.

Australia haven’t gone above 200 in either test so far, struggling to break the chains of a well-conducted Indian attack that targeted stumps and cut cheap tracks with fields heavy on the legs.

While much of the focus was on Steve Smith’s struggles and his failure to hit double digits in the series, top-notch batsman Labuschagne had to fight for points as well.

Still, to mark half a century a year after dominating Pakistan and New Zealand on the home pitches, Labuschagne paid tribute to Indian bowlers but said Australia must rise to the challenge.

“They were very disciplined in their bowling and in their plans, with both spin and pace, I think they really held that straight,” said Labuschagne, who was fired for 48 and 28 in of the second test in Melbourne.

“They put us up against a lot of balls for… a hit rate of about two points more.

“We have to be very disciplined. And we also need to find ways to put them under pressure.

“For us it’s just about making sure that we keep finding ways to score … It’s not necessarily pretty, but we just have to keep grinding and keep fighting and if we get in, we have to do of course we get these big scores. “

After Australia won the opener in Adelaide, India’s eight-wicket victory in Melbourne left the four-game streak close to 1-1. The Sydney test begins on January 7.

With opener Joe Burns falling after two failures with the bat in Melbourne, David Warner returned to the squad and ran to recover from groin strain.

Although close to his Queensland teammate Burns, Labuschagne said Warner’s presence would give Australia a real boost.

“Someone with over 7,000 tries and an average of almost 50, he’s a great player,” said Labuschagne.

“I think he’s in that caliber of a top-level player … Just his energy that he will bring around the squad and his energy on the pitch will be great.”

(Edited by Peter Rutherford)

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