There has been a leg slip, a short leg, a leg gully, a square leg, a mid-wicket, a mid-on and a deep fine leg for the occasional short ball. For the batsman, the major difficulty is to counter the ‘blind spot’ that crops up after marking his stance and fronting up to the bowler. Due to the blind spot, it so happens that the batsman often hits the ball in the air while glancing or flicking a delivery, and that proves to be his undoing.
Labuschagne and Steve Smith, the two pillars in the Australian batting line-up, have been affected the most with this strategy.
“The leg-side trap is quite challenging. Not only is it difficult to hit boundaries, but rotation of strike also gets affected. Even if you want to remain positive, you cannot be reckless,” Labuschagne said during a virtual interaction arranged by Cricket Australia.
“You have to give it to the Indians. They have come into the series with precise planning. In the modern game, every team comes up with new ways and thinking to outsmart the opposition. They have not given us scoring chances on the off-side. It is now up to us to counter their strategy. I can’t reveal here how we will do that (in the remaining two Tests), but the goal is to bat with a positive intent.”
Smith has been outfoxed by Ravichandran Ashwin twice in the series and his return so far has been just 10 runs in four innings. Labuschagne said it’s a matter of time before Smith finds himself back among the runs.
“Just a month back, Smithie scored back-to-back hundreds off some 60-odd balls. It is just a few innings that he hasn’t scored. He has been a champion for a dozen years or so. There is no stress at all (for Smith). I am quite confident that he will roar back to form,” Labuschagne said.
“In the last 12 months, we haven’t played a lot of red-ball cricket. He (Smith) likes a lot of balls hitting the middle of the bat. That’s how he gets into the groove.”