Sticking to a plan
Andy Bichel: tried his hardest ... as usual
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Andy Bichel thanked the selectors for their faith, and said that sticking to a plan had helped him achieve breakthroughs against India, as they set off in pursuit of a mammoth Australian total of 556. He said it would have been harsh had he been dropped after one bad game - on his home ground in Brisbane, he finished with figures of 1 for 142.
"I wasn't too clear on the plans at Brisbane," he said. "There were things off the field concerning me, which I'd rather not discuss ... was a bit anxious at the start and they got the momentum on me. Here I was clearer about the plans and how I had to go about executing them. Brisbane was also my first outing against India in five-day cricket, and obviously the plans you make for that are very different from that for the one-day game."
India got off to a blistering start today, and it was Bichel's spell that pulled it back, reducing them from 66 for 0 to 85 for 4. "They put us on the back foot early, coming at us hard. It was rewarding to make the breakthrough, and then to get two more."
Of the ball that got Sachin Tendulkar, he said, "I was a little bit lucky to get a nibble, but teams have had success bowling there to him in the past."
Ricky Ponting, 176 overnight, progressed to a personal best score of 242, and he elaborated later on the blown kiss to his wife midway through the morning. "It was a bit of celebration," he said. "She had been thinking of going back home yesterday, and I just told her to hang around. There was the possibility that something special might happen."
Ponting said that he didn't want to think about what transpired in Kolkata two and a half years ago when Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman were putting together another sizeable partnership in the final session. "They played really well," he said, "but we hung in there. It's important to restrict these guys tomorrow because they're free-flowing players when they get going."
He conceded that there was very little chance of Australia enforcing the follow-on even in the event of India failing to make 356. "There's plenty of time left to win this match." he said. "It's never easy batting last here, no matter how small the target. If the sun shines, you'll get variable bounce, and that'll make batting very hard."
The last word, though, should go to Bichel, whose ability to hit the deck ball after ball could conceivably be the difference between the two sides. "I tried my hardest in Brisbane, but it just didn't work for me," he said. "I tried my hardest here, and I picked up three. That's how it goes. That's how I've always played my cricket. And that's how I'll play right up until my last game."