India vs Australia: Travis Head to seek state teammate’s advice to tackle Ashwin

South Australia’s Harry Nielsen (100) negotiated Ashwin (2-122) well, scoring a hundred in the tour game between Cricket Australia XI and India last week.

Head, who played his two Tests against Pakistan in UAE, will be hoping to get the nod for this series, given the host is struggling to plug the holes in the top-order.   -  getty images

Australia batsman Travis Head is looking to pick the brains of his junior state teammate Harry Nielsen on how to tackle formidable off-spinner R Ashwin during the opening Test against India starting in Adelaide on December 6.

South Australia’s Nielsen (100) negotiated Ashwin (2-122) well, scoring a hundred in the tour game between Cricket Australia XI and India last week.

"Harry played well against him yesterday so when he gets home off the plane I'll have a word to him," Head said.

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Ashwin, who averages less than 20 against left-handers in Tests, will fancy his chances against an Australian line-up that's likely to field four southpaws in the top six.

“I have faced Ashwin a couple of times in IPL before this. However, I don’t have much experience of playing him in Test cricket. But we have batsmen who can play spin well,” he said.

“Look, it is not just about one spinner. If we play six right-handers, they will play Ravindra Jadeja who is another good bowler. I think it will be a good contest.”

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Tackling Kohli threat

Head also believes Australian pacers will cause India skipper Virat Kohli plenty of problems. Kohli averages 62 in eight previous Tests in Australia, and has five centuries under his belt, including three in Adelaide.

“I don’t have to bowl to him so I don’t need to work out his weaknesses. But I think our bowlers will have it under control,” said Head.

“Facing our three pacers is hard work as it is. He is human after all, and if we can put him under enough pressure, it might work.

“We know he is a good batsman, but we have the bowlers to do a job. We have one of the best bowling units in world cricket so it will be an exciting battle. Hopefully, we can come out on top.”

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All about actions

The ball-tampering scandal in South Africa when David Warner, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft were suspended, has cast a shadow on Australia's aggressive brand of cricket but Head insisted that the team will not shed its old style.

“I haven’t played much Test cricket. In ODIs fielding on the boundary, it is not easy to get talkative. But I am sure we will look to play fierce cricket and look to be aggressive. Words are cheap. It is all about actions,” he said.

“We will attack the ball and even when bowling defence, look to attack. We need to cut down runs and create pressure. When I am batting, I will try to get into the game and just look to compete. That’s what it is about - enjoying, playing with a smile and winning the contest for your team.”

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'Exciting to be in the mix'

Head, who played his two Tests against Pakistan in UAE, will be hoping to get the nod for this series, given the host is struggling to plug the holes in the top-order.

“Having seven batsmen in the side keeps you on your toes. When playing for Australia you have to be performing. There are a lot of spots on offer and lot of batsmen have been scoring runs in Shield cricket,” he said.

"It is exciting to be in that mix and fighting for that Test spot. It helps make for a good strong batting line-up.”