Melbourne: Buoyed by team’s comprehensive victory in the second Test, a cautious Australian skipper Tim Paine believes that his inexperienced side have the potential to get ahead of India but are still a work in progress.
The third Test begins in Melbourne on Wednesday with the four-match series levelled at 1-1.
“I don’t feel like we are on top of them. We feel like we are getting better with every Test,” Paine said on the eve of the Boxing Day Test.
“We are improving with every game but we need to keep stacking up good days and play good Test cricket. If we can do that for the next 4-5 days I think we will be in the thick of it again,” Paine said.
“Certainly when you have an inexperienced team and you get a big win like in Perth against the number one team in the world, guys are going to grow in confidence a little bit and come to Melbourne feeling better than when we did to Perth,” the skipper said.
The skipper added that the journey since leading the side has been a learning curve for him, even as Australian cricket is just starting to come out of a period of strife.
“I haven’t changed a lot. I came into the team and into the job at a time when I have already been through so much as a cricketer and a person. I am bit older than most guys to come back into the scene so I have had a bit more life experience and happy being myself. That’s how I have kept it and so far it is working out okay. No need to change,” he said.
Australia named their playing XI with Mitchell Marsh coming in the side replacing Peter Handscomb.
Paine said that the change is to do with bowling and it would help out their four-bowler attack, before adding that Handscomb could be back for the Sydney Test.
“We did it last year during the Ashes as well and majority of this decision is based on the fact that it will be hot and the bowlers have had a big role play. We think Mitch can come in and do a good job with the bat and will be a great support for our bowlers as well.
“Peter knows that there are things we would like him to improve. Going into Sydney, where it normally spins, I think he will come back into it quickly because he is our best player of spin. He would like to get better because we all like to do that and he will be doing everything he can to come back into the side,” explained Paine.
Considering the conditions at the MCG, Paine said he would opt to bat first if given the opportunity. “I am not sure to be honest (if it is a bowl-first pitch). The grass here can be deceiving and I haven’t played here this year but I have a few Victorians in our camp. They said it has looked worse than it has played at times and again with the hot weather around, it would be a hard one to win the toss and bowl I would imagine,” said Paine.