Dhoni’s knock defined the match: Clarke
There were many brilliant individual performances from the Indian team that contributed to their eight-wicket win in the Chennai and handed them a 1-0 lead over Australia in the series. The web spun by R Ashwin, the mature century from Virat Kohli and Sachin Tendulkar’s brilliant return to Test form.
But according to Australian captain, Michael Clarke, the result of the Test was decided by MS Dhoni’s superlative batting effort, which gave him his first Test double-century. Clarke believed that Dhoni’s counterattack against the second new ball put his bowlers on the defensive and his team on the back foot.
“A lot of credit has to go to India; they outplayed us in this Test match. MS Dhoni certainly led the charge. I thought Virat Kohli was outstanding with his hundred as well, but MS Dhoni changed the game,” Clarke said after the match.
Another major difference between the two teams was their bowling combination. While the Indian spinners accounted for all 20 Australian wickets in the match, the visitors only had the off-spin of Nathan Lyon to fall back on in conditions that were conducive to spin bowling.
Clarke acknowledged that they might have got it wrong by featuring four fast bowlers on this wicket, but refused to jump the gun and announce a major overhaul for the second Test.
“Australian spin took three wickets in the first innings; fast bowling took a lot more,” he pointed out. “That doesn’t mean that playing three fast bowlers and a medium pace all-rounder was right. But we need to assess the conditions in Hyderabad before making any changes.
“Also, I think it’s not just about selection, but also about how you perform. We didn’t bowl well in our first innings and certainly didn’t bat well in the second,” Clarke said.
While from the outside, the Chepauk wicket for this Test appeared far from good-looking, the Australian captain revealed it wasn’t as bad to bat on as it seemed on the first day.
“The wicket played better than it looked. In the first two innings of the match, the wicket was pretty good for batting,” Clarke said, citing the 952 runs scored in the first two innings for 20 wickets.
“In the second half, as we expected, the wicket deteriorated; it spun and there was inconsistent bounce. But I like to see a result in Test cricket and this Test saw one on the fifth day. For me it’s a pretty good Test match wicket.”
With the Indian spinners exploiting the conditions optimally and most Australian batsmen struggling against them, many believed Clarke – Australia’s best player against spin – should’ve batted at a position higher than No.5.
The skipper, however, was of the opinion that the order of the line-up doesn’t matter and that it is important to score runs from whatever position one bats at. “I don’t know how moving up the order guarantees any more runs. No matter where you bat, the guys in the top seven need to make sure they score majority of runs.”
While the team went down on a whole, the biggest plus for Australia was the pluck showed by debutant all-rounder, Moises Henriques. He helped his captain put up a formidable total in the first innings with a solid half-century. In the second, with the match all but lost, Henriques stitched a 66-run stand for the ninth wicket with Nathan Lyon and brought up his second fifty in his debut Test to save Australia from an innings defeat.
Clarke praised the youngster for the temperament he displayed and also expressed confidence in his bowling abilities should Australia decide to drop a specialist pacer in favour of a spinner in the coming Tests.
“It’s very exciting to see the way he has started. He’s been a very talented player for a long time back at home, and it’s nice to see that potential come to the fore in his very first Test. I think he looked very comfortable with both bat and ball, and that’s very exciting for Australian cricket.
“I we don’t have a third fast bowler, Moises can certainly perform that role well,” Clarke said.