Marsh follows 'very planned out process' to bounce back

Mitchell Marsh, who had damaged his left ankle, was forced to skip a county stint with Surrey. He underwent surgery in April and is making a comeback into competitive cricket in the four-day Tests against India A.

Mitchell Marsh on way to his century in Bengaluru on Saturday.   -  Sudhakara Jain

There was a moment during the first day’s play of the second ‘Test’ between India A and Australia A, when Australia A captain Mitchell Marsh, batting on 26 at the time, offered a simple catch to R. Samarth at leg-slip off speedster Rajneesh Gurbani.

Samarth grassed the chance and Marsh went on to score an unbeaten 113, shepherding his team — which had slumped to 180 for six — to a fighting 346 in the first innings. "I haven't batted for a while, so you're obviously a bit nervous!", he says.

“But I settled into my game pretty nicely. It was good spending time out in the middle. I had a clear game plan and I just tried to stick to that.”

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Marsh, who had damaged his left ankle, was forced to skip a county stint with Surrey. The 26-year-old underwent surgery in April and is making a comeback into competitive cricket in the four-day Tests against India A.

“I’m feeling pretty fresh," he says exuding confidence. I've had five months to prepare for this (four-day Tests) game, so if I wasn't ready, I would've been quite annoyed. It's (ankle) not too sore at the moment but once I start bowling in the games,  I'll have a better idea," he adds.

Marsh followed a ‘very planned out process’ following his surgery. “It involved building up my running fitness and my body strength…” he says.

While Marsh looked very confident with the bat — solid defence and good footwork a feature of his innings during the weekend — he only bowled five overs for 26 runs.

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Asked why that was the case,  Marsh explains,  "I've got restrictions —10 overs for this match— and we've plenty of options with the ball,  so there wasn't a lot of need for me to bowl.

"The spinners, too, came into play with the seamers creating the rough... So, I'll roll my arm when I see fit. But I don't want to push myself too far at this stage."

The all-rounder will be key for Australia as it prepares for the two-Test series against Pakistan in UAE.

Marsh's ability to bat in the top six gives the selectors the luxury of picking three spinners if they so deem necessary. The wickets in Dubai will be on the slower side and the team will have to deal with extreme heat and humidity apart from a certain trial by spin.

The quadrangular series and the two unofficial Tests in India,  therefore, are an ideal preparation for Australia as it gears up to assuage the lingering doubts over the side's ability to do well in the subcontinent.

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“You know what you are up for when you come to the sub-continent… The boys are feeling good. 

“Plus we were on the field for only 60 overs today, so everyone's doing great. We're all well prepared for the Dubai trip,” he signed off.