Australia is well aware of what’s coming towards them when they take to the field in the first of the four-Test match Border Gavaskar Trophy against India, on February 9 in Nagpur. In order to prepare themselves for the spin challenge and to tackle wizard R Ashwin, Aussies roped in Mahesh Pithiya, an uncapped Indian off-spinner, whose bowling action resembles Ashwin's.
To cope with the Ashwin threat, Australian batters had asked the 18-year-old from Baroda to bowl them at the nets. While it will be a matter of time to see if Australians have prepared themselves well to face R Ashwin, a former Indian off-spinner, who once prepared master blaster Sachin Tendulkar to face legendary Shane Warne, feels preparation with the replica does not help as much as mental clarity does.
"Most people think about the exact purpose of those training sessions. I was never going to be a replica of Shane Warne. But what worked for me was that I also had big leg breaks. One can never replicate the other bowler," former Indian leg-spinner Laxman Sivaramakrishnan told Times of India.
Explaining how clear Sachin was to prepare himself against Shane Warne, Mr Siva informed that the master blaster used to give him a clear picture of the variation of pace, trajectory and angles Warne used. “That's how observant Sachin was. I just tried to implement that," Siva added.
He also recalled that Sachin bought new shoes with sharp spikes. "He scratched the surface very hard and created the rough. The groundsman was not happy with what we were planning. So, we decided we will use one pitch for the week-long session. By the third or fourth day, the pitch became very tough to bat on," he said.
"He simply wanted to grow more range of shots that would target anything from fine-leg to mid-wicket. So, he wanted the paddle sweep, the generic sweep and the slog sweep. Those days, there was just one sweep played by batters around the world. Sachin thought of the paddle sweep, which also cut out the risks of playing from the rough. He would bat for an hour. It's not the quantity of practice but the quality of it that matters the most," he concluded.