Australian skipper Tim Paine backs Mitchell Starc against India in Perth after first Test loss
Australian skipper Tim Paine has defended wayward paceman Mitchell Starc after the first Test loss to India, tipping him to bounce back in Perth.
- Tim Paine is confident Mitchell Starc will come into his own in the west from Friday
- The skipper praised Shaun Marsh’s resilience in bouncing back
- The Aussie captain said he thought the Indians bowled superbly for most of the first Test match
The home side has only three full days to regroup after its dramatic 31-run loss to the tourists at Adelaide Oval before the second game in the four-Test series begins on Friday.
The win for India made history, marking the first time the team has led at any stage of a series against Australia in this country.
Paine downplayed concerns about his own fitness after he was struck on the finger by Mohammed Shami on day five, saying he was “no doubt” to back up at Perth Stadium.
He also batted off suggestions of changes to the side from outside for the second Test, saying the 14-man group had been chosen for the first few games of the series.
The skipper downplayed concerns about his own health going into the next game. (AP: James Elsby)
But in the aftermath of the defeat, questions continued to be asked about Starc, the Australian left-arm quick who was in the spotlight for much of the match.
The man who has been the mainstay of the Australian attack for several years has struggled with injury and poor form.
In Adelaide, he appeared lacking in energy at times, and he struggled to control the swing from his deliveries, sending several shooting down the leg side for byes.
His overall match figures of 5-103 from 39.5 overs were not particularly expensive, but some have questioned his focus at the start of a challenging series.
Paine acknowledged Starc’s occasional waywardness but stood firm in backing the paceman.
“I think for the majority of the Test, he actually bowled really well,” Paine said.
“His economy rate for a lot of the Test was really good [and] he took some wickets.
“He didn’t set the world on fire but I think for a long time there’s been a really big gap between Starcy’s best and his worst, and from what I’m seeing that is getting closer and closer every day.
“So yeah, was he at his best? Probably not, but I still thought he played his role really well and opened up the game for us at times.”
The Australian captain was keen to move on after a frustrating opening loss and was confident Starc would come into his own in the west from Friday.
“[He is] particularly [good] with the new ball and if he can get it to swing, I think in Perth the conditions will suit him down to the ground,” he said.
“I think it will swing and from what I hear the wicket will be really fast. He’ll be a handful.”
Bowlers gave it a ‘red-hot crack’
Paine also praised Shaun Marsh, who returned to form after a string of single-digit innings with a knock of 60 on day five.
He acknowledged what he called Marsh’s resilience in bouncing back while being written off by the media and the public.
“[Marsh] has been in great form the last month or so and I think he is really close to cracking a really big score and winning us some games,” he said.
Paine said he thought the Indians had bowled superbly for most of the match — but he pointed to Australia’s approach for the series in dealing with opposing pacemen.
“We want our top batters to face more of them [India’s quicks], that’s the goal,” Paine said.
“If we can do that, we think they will tire.”
Paine said the Australian bowlers had “given it a red-hot crack for every single ball” in Adelaide, but the captain also said the lower-order’s determined batting to extend the match to teatime on day five might prove beneficial later in the series.
“On days like today, you make them [fast bowlers] come back two, three and even four times,” Paine said.
“I think that can have a big impact at the back end of the series.
“We want to get lots of overs into them — I’d say they probably want to do the same to us, too.
“We can’t wait to get to Perth and find out who backs up better.”