Sydney — Australia’s batsmen will have to be prepared to bat for long periods in February’s four-Test series in India, says coach Darren Lehmann.

Australia scored seven centuries in the 3-0 Test series clean sweep of Pakistan completed in Sydney on Saturday, but Lehmann warned that the batsmen would have to be prepared to "grind it out" in India.

While Australia had it much their own way against Pakistan, winning all three Tests, attention has now switched to the coming tough assignment on the subcontinent with the squad to be announced this week.

Pundits said the 13 players in the squad in Sydney were expected to be included, plus Shaun Marsh and probably two others — likely a fast bowler and a batting all-rounder.

There will be a great deal of focus on Australia’s spin contingent of Nathan Lyon, Steve O’Keefe and Ashton Agar.

But Lehmann said it was the batting that had to be ready for the challenges against Virat Kohli’s top-ranked India.

"Batting long periods of time is going to be the key," Lehmann said after Saturday’s 220-run Sydney Test win.

"I think [England’s] Alastair Cook summed it up really well on their tour, where they didn’t bat long enough. They got decent scores but they still didn’t bat long enough. That’s going to be the challenge for this group.

"We batted 135 overs in the first innings [in Sydney]. We’ll need to bat for 150 overs plus in India to post a big total."

Captain Steve Smith was careful not to set expectations too high, recalling Australia’s
4-0 Test series drubbing on their last tour to India in 2013.

"It’s obviously going to be a very difficult series," Smith said. "We’re under no illusions that it’s going to be tough. We’re going to have to play some very good cricket if we want to compete over there. It’s going to be a great challenge and learning curve for this group.

"A few of us have been there before. We know it’s extremely difficult to play them in their own backyard. It’s a completely different place to play, playing on those wickets that are nothing like playing on the wickets here in Australia."

Lehmann refused to guarantee third-Test hero Matt Renshaw a starting berth against India. The opener is under threat from Shaun Marsh if selectors adopt a horses-for-courses policy for the tour, despite being one of the revelations of Australia’s Test revival since their innings debacle against SA in Hobart in November.

Marsh is yet to play a Test in India but has made two centuries from three Tests in Sri Lanka, including 130 in August, at an average of 76.5. Renshaw has the weight of a career-best 184 in the first innings against Pakistan in Sydney and would be deemed unlucky not to play the first Test against India, let alone miss the tour entirely.

"It’s a case of what’s the best line-up to win in India and compete," Lehmann said. "At the moment you would say he would play but we have to sum up what the conditions are like, what the pitches will be like, how we’ll play everyone in the XI to give us a chance to take 20 wickets."

AFP

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