Starc, difference

SP

A couple of net bowlers left Chepauk on Wednesday afternoon rubbing their sore and overworked left shoulders. For close to two hours they had run in hard and exhausted their reserves while partnering India's new ball bowlers Ishant Sharma and Ashok Dinda. India's top-order was busy adjusting to the left-right pace combination that the Aussies have lined up for them and the two modest southpaws, though not a handful, were certainly handy.

The first Test was still two days away and Zaheer Khan was already being missed.

Around the time the Indians were having nets, elsewhere in the city, the Australians had picked Mitchell Starc in their playing XI, ahead of the other left-arm pacer Mitchell Johnson.

Picking the 23-year-old rookie with no Test experience in the sub-continent and discarding old-hand Johnson, the highest wicket-taker on the last Aussie tour here, might surprise the uninitiated Indian fan, but the decision isn't expected to raise too many eyebrows Down Under.

The athletic, 6'4" pacer, whose sporty family includes a brother who does the Fosbury Flop for a living, is easily the most improved and exciting talent to emerge from Australia in recent times. The measured, easy strides of his long legs ensure a smooth, energy-efficient run-up that he can effortlessly repeat all day.

Starc's method is to strategically deploy the surprise short ball and the late-moving inswinger amidst sequences of his near-perfect stock ball, which angles away from the right-hander. The common thread during the over is his speed — 140-plus kmph on an average.

Bringing it in

Early last year, Sachin Tendulkar was fooled by the sequence of the balls that Starc had planned from him. In the third Test of India's disastrous tour of Australia, the towering pacer, bowling over the wicket, got one to swing in late, after a series of deliveries that moved from middle to off. Tendulkar lost his balance and almost tumbled over as the ball hit his pads.

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