We’re learning but not quick enough: Siddle
When Shikhar Dhawan’s imperiousness and Murali Vijay’s sensibility called the shots for the better part of Day 3 of the Mohali Test, the Australian bowlers resembled accomplices helping them to runs.
However, the new day brought a bit of brightness in the Aussie cricket world when led by Peter Siddle, they reduced India from 289/0 to 499 all-out. The most seasoned of Australian bowlers claimed the seventh five-wicket haul of his Test career as he tirelessly sent down 29.1 overs in the Indian innings.
His pace partner, Mitchell Starc scalped two quick wickets with the second new ball – those of Vijay and MS Dhoni (4). After the day’s play, Siddle reckoned that the Australian bowlers are slowly getting to grips with the nuances of bowling on Indian wickets.
“I think we’re getting to the right direction [where adapting our bowling to Indian conditions is concerned] but we’ve taken time to get there,” Siddle told reporters at the end of Day 4. “We’ve given away those big partnerships, which has cost us in all three Tests. But we’re doing the best we can and we’re improving.
“We’ve been doing things right for sessions but not for days, and I think that’s been the difference. The way we started yesterday afternoon wasn’t ideal. Having 400 on the board, you want to try and pick a couple of early wickets, which we couldn’t.
“From yesterday we knew that we have to build pressure and slow the run-rate down and that’s what made the difference today. We had some good bowling partnerships in the first session, which made it hard for India to score. These are the things we’ve done throughout the series but not for long enough. It shows that when we do things right, we can be very competitive. But we’ve been off and it hurts,” Siddle said.
While the fast bowler was pleased to pick up a five-for, he insisted that credit must be given to all his bowling colleagues for their teamwork.
“We’ve been giving one bad ball an over that that’s often gone for a boundary; that’s what’s cost us throughout this series, and we knew that we have to take care of that today. It was a pretty good day for all our bowlers – we put pressure and built partnerships from both ends. I was lucky enough to get the rewards, but I think anyone could’ve got the wickets. We did bowl well as a unit today, which was pleasing,” Siddle said.
Given that the conditions in this series have been very helpful for spin bowling and that the Indian spinners have dominated the wicket column, there remains a huge question mark on the Australian tweakers’ inability to pick wickets. Siddle, however, defended them by pointing out how well the Indian batsmen have handled spin bowling throughout the series.
“The Indian batsmen have batted really well against our spinners. Dhoni in the first match was outstanding, there was a big partnership in the last match [between Cheteshwar Pujara and Murali Vijay], the same happened here. But once we’ve broken those big partnerships, the spinners have played an unbelievable role for us and built pressure. We’ve let ourselves down by letting that one partnership be too big on us,” he said.
Despite the bowlers’ remarkable efforts today, Australia’s chances of winning this Test match seem bleak going into the final day at 75/3 – still 16 runs behind India. Siddle admits that the road would be extremely tough for Australia from here, but he hopes for a fight from his team.
“Losing the first day makes it a shorter game and the situation at the moment is that we are still behind with three wickets down. It’s going to be hard, but I think the first session is going to be big for us tomorrow morning. It’s going to be very hard for us to win from here, but we need to keep fighting and put up a good challenge.
“Phil Hughes (53*) has come out and batted superbly. Hopefully, he can dig in and fight away, so we can get a par score and see where we can go from there,” Siddle said.