Chennai: Michael Clarke admitted that they were outplayed by India in the first Test and a bulk of the credit should go to Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
“I think there are a number of areas in both the teams on which you need to focus. There are areas in the Indian team we didn’t attack enough. If we’d got 150 or 200 on the board for them to chase, we might have been able to expose or at least see how they played on a deteriorating wicket.
“A lot of credit has to go to India. They outplayed us. Mahendra Singh Dhoni certainly led the charge. I thought Virat Kohli was outstanding as well, his hundred… Ashwin got seven in the first, and five in the second. That’s three very good performances. But Dhoni changed the game,” the Australian captain said.
The Australians’ decision to play only one spinner has come under the scanner and Clarke said they will assess the conditions before announcing the team for the second Test.
“We’ve got the same options which we had before this Test. We need to assess the conditions once we get to Hyderabad. Our spinners took three wickets in the first innings and the fast bowlers took a lot more. That doesn’t mean that we got it right by playing three fast bowlers and a medium-pace all-rounder. We need to look at conditions again and work out what we think is the best XI,” he explained.
“It’s not just about selection. It’s about how you perform. I don’t think we bowled well enough in our first innings, and we certainly didn’t bat well enough in our second innings.”
Clarke, however, squashed the thought of getting more spin options to further strengthen the squad.
“Bring more spinners to India? Bring the whole country in soon!” he exclaimed. “We have 17 players already. We need to make the most of the talent we have in the squad. Warney’s in town… We’ll see if he’s available.
“We have spinning options with Xavier Doherty and Glenn Maxwell. We’ll assess what the pitch is like and then make that decision.”
Does it help to have an off-spinner for a left-handed batsman?
“You’re going to face both if you’re playing against India. They’ve got two right-arm off-spinners in Harbhajan Singh and Ravichandran Ashwin... Also left-arm spinner (Ravindra) Jadeja played, and you’ve got (Pragyan) Ojha in the reserves... I think you have to find a way against the ball spinning in both directions. I think it’s more personal preference.
“For me, I don’t think it matters too much. I got out to a ball spinning away in the first innings, and to one spinning back in the second innings. I’d like it to go dead straight. That would be nice.
“I don’t think we can blame the number of left-handers we have. We’ve just got to find a way to execute our skills better, with bat and ball,” the Australian captain said.
Does he believe that David Warner and Shane Watson should display more intent?
“I’ve always made it clear to the players that I want them to back their own ability, and play their natural game... Credit needs to go to the Indian bowlers, but the players know they have the freedom to play their way.”
Clarke ruled out changes in the batting order. “I’ve had that discussion every Test match since being captain. I don’t know how moving up the order guarantees more runs. No matter where you bat, the guys in the top-seven need to make sure we’re scoring the majority of the runs.”
He didn’t have any complaints on the wicket. “I think the wicket played better than it looked, to be honest. In the first innings, the wicket was pretty good for batting. In the second, it did deteriorate. It spun and bounced a lot more. The bounce was inconsistent. I like to see a result in Test cricket, and the fact that the game went five days means that it’s a pretty good Test match wicket.”
Clarke praised Moises Henriques, who made his Test debut. “If we don’t play a third fast bowler in the second Test, Moises can certainly fit in that role. I think it’s very exciting the way he’s started. He has a lot of talent, and it’s nice to see that potential come to the forefront in his first Test match. He looked very comfortable with both bat and ball, and that’s exciting for Australian cricket going forward.”