Australia v India, 4th Test, Sydney, 3rd day January 4, 2004

'I can't remember playing a team like them' - Langer

Wisden Cricinfo staff

Justin Langer celebrates his century, but Australia have plenty to do over the next couple of days
© Getty Images

The respect for the Indian batsmen has grown and grown, and after their epic performance in this Test, it now borders on awe. Justin Langer, who kept Australia alive for the best part of today, paid his rivals the ultimate compliment by saying that the Australians have a lot to learn from the way the Indian batsmen have batted in this series.

"The reality of this series is the extraordinary Indian batting," Langer said, "there is a lot we can learn from them. They look so patient, as if they are in a meditative state. It's awesome the way they apply themselves. I can't remember being under pressure in this manner - the pressure to bowl against them, field against them, and to chase huge scores.

"I can't remember in my career playing a team (like them). It's a credit to them that they have been able to play like that in these conditions."

Even though Langer blazed away from the start - at one point he had 28 runs to Matthew Hayden's 1 - and Australia scored at more than four runs for over, Langer admitted that for the first time in his career he was thinking about time rather than about scoring runs. "It's funny. It never happened to me before," he said, "usually Matt (Hayden) and I look at the first ten runs, then the next ten and then the next. But today, we were thinking about how long we can bat."

Langer, who scored a hundred in the first Test, and then did precious little in the next two, brought up the 17th hundred of his career with 15 fours and a six in 124 balls, but he admitted the long hours in the field had taken their toll on him. "I am disappointed not to score a big hundred but to be honest, I am feeling pretty tired. We spent a long day in the field at Melbourne and then more than two days here."

Langer conceded that from here on it will take a big performance to save the Test, but asserted that Australia will not give up without a fight. "From the time he (Waugh) has taken over as captain, he has always asked us to get better and fight. It will be nice for him to play a characteristic innings and save or win the game."

But even while admitting that Australia will have to bat long periods in this game to be able to save it, Langer didn't foresee a defensive approach to batting. "I think it's in our nature to keep scoring runs, because I honestly believe that if you are scoring runs, the opposition will have some doubts in their mind. If you hang around and try to build pressure, you are going to be under even more pressure."

The bowler who took the Australians by surprise was Irfan Pathan, who struck two big blows by removing Steve Waugh and Adam Gilchrist in quick succession. "He swung the balls prodigiously. And he was swinging it late. That was surprising because I thought the ball didn't swing in the first 40 minutes of our bowling. That had an effect I think."