Australia’s middle-order batter Peter Handscomb has recalled how former India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane helped him combat spin bowling in the sub-continent.
During the IPL in 2016, Handscomb shared the dressing room with Rahane. The two had a chat were the Indian spoke about how to use the feet and wrist to open up the leg side while playing spinners.
“He was playing these shots off his back foot through midwicket which I thought were ridiculous,” Handscomb told Sydney Morning Herald.
“I was like, wow I need someone to teach me that. So we spoke about getting his front leg out of the way and being able to manipulate the ball from there.
“That helps your back foot become a scoring zone, and then if they overpitch, you can hopefully score off the front foot as well. Then all their good balls you just find a way to defend.” After scoring an unbeaten 72 off 142 balls in the first innings, Handscomb, like many of his teammates, got out for a duck while attempting a sweep shot in the second essay of the second Test at Kotla.
“India personally outplayed me in that situation. They gave me my scoring gap, but without the reward, so it was just going to be a single, but tempted me to hit the ball there.
“And I fell for that and tried to manipulate the ball there when, had that been my third ball of the first innings, I would have just tried to defend, because I was still trying to understand the pitch and what was going on.
“For me, it’s just about being stronger and starting again. I probably walked out there thinking ‘I’m still on 72 not out, I can just pick up where I left off’, and you can’t think like that.”
Handscomb, who has been to India about eight times including when he was an academy scholar, feels tours are important in getting the hang of the conditions in the sub- continent.
“I’d have sessions where no matter what the bowler was bowling, I had to hit every ball on the leg side, and then the next day and every ball had to go on the off side, and every ball had to be played off the back foot, or every ball off the front foot,” he says.
“It was learning what I could and couldn’t do in subcontinent tours with no repercussions. I get to try all this. It’s just so different to back home, where bounce is key for spin. So tours are crucial.” Despite conceding the Broder Gavskar Trophy after losing the first two Tests, Handscomb said the Australian camp is positive.
“The feeling around the group is one of trust in each other’s games, which is very hard to come by. We’ll definitely take the positives out of Delhi.
“We still had a first innings lead, we’d done well there, we’d started well in the second innings and then it all just happened really fast and we didn’t stop it at any stage.
“The challenge is if there’s a moment where we have lost two or three quick ones, it’s being able to stop the flow for a second and let us all just take a step back, have a breath and then continue on with the game, and hopefully stem the flow of wickets that way.” As a good player of spin bowling, Handscomb was always in line to be a part of the India tour but the batter wants to be “on every Australian tour from now”.
“But I also understand I came into this tour because I was a good player of spin, and there’s batters who have done better in English conditions who could come into the fold.
“Those are the discussions we have, we’re all open and honest about it. I still want to be a part of it though, and I’ll be doing everything I can to stay in,” he added.