India v Australia, 1st Test, Chennai, 1st day

Could have been more ruthless - Henriques

Brydon Coverdale

February 22, 2013

Comments: 25 | Text size: A | A

As he walked out to bat in his first Test innings, Moises Henriques felt like his legs were made of jelly. The first-afternoon pitch looked like something that had been played on for a full five days already. R Ashwin was spinning Australia into a trance. Wickets were falling much too quickly for their liking. Plenty of fans and pundits back home had questioned the selection of Henriques, not that he was thinking about that as he walked out. Still, by the end of his innings of 68, he had silenced a few critics.

In the post-war era, only three other Australians had scored as many as Henriques on debut from No.7 or lower. Two of those men, Greg Chappell and Adam Gilchrist, went on to become legendary figures in Australian cricket. The other, Greg Matthews, had a more than handy career over the course of a decade. Of course it is much too early to judge what sort of Test player Henriques will become, but he has made a fine start. If he can add a few wickets he will be hard to budge for the rest of this tour at least.

Throughout his innings he batted with the captain Michael Clarke, who must have been impressed by the patience displayed by Henriques during his 132-ball innings and their 151-run partnership. Clarke, who in the lead-up to the match said batsmen who made a start in this series could not afford to throw it away, will be pleased with the way Henriques admonished himself after falling lbw to a sweep.

"I certainly think I had the opportunity to make it my best innings [in all cricket] but it was a little bit disappointing, I really wanted to get through the day and make sure we finished five wickets down," Henriques said. "I could have been a little bit more ruthless at the end. But if someone said you're going to have 60-odd on debut I'd take it."

He didn't try to copy Clarke's nimble-footed approach against the spinners but he benefited from his captain's ability to throw Ashwin and his colleagues off their rhythm. Henriques said Ashwin had been a handful but he believed the pitch would also offer some assistance for Australia's fast men, given that Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar both found some reverse swing as the day wore on.

"He [Ashwin] is a little bit taller and puts some really good work on the ball, the ball is fizzing and can bounce or not bounce, or spin or not spin," Henriques said. "But the other [spinners] are still really disciplined. It wasn't their day today but guys like Harbhajan have taken 400 Test wickets and come day three or four when the wicket is really starting to play some tricks, they're certainly going to come to the game.

"[There was] not much seam movement or anything like that but both their quicks were getting it to reverse and I think with our quicks they'll probably penetrate the wicket a little bit more than what those guys did. Hopefully with guys like Jimmy [Pattinson] and Peter [Siddle] and Mitch [Starc] with a little bit more airspeed, there [will be] reverse swing. The key with reverse swing is to try to bowl to new batsmen with it and be smart with your fields."

Henriques batted on a surface that threw up clouds of dust whenever the players kicked away a stone, and it will only become much more difficult to bat on as the match progresses. Australia reached 316 for 7 at stumps and if Clarke and the tail-enders can push the total up towards 400 on the second day, India might have their work cut out for them.

"The footmarks and the loose ground out there is something like a three-day wicket," Henriques said. "Even back home in Australia you wouldn't see that on day three or four. To have that loose soil out there, come days four and five the ball's going to start playing some tricks."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by sarangsrk on (February 24, 2013, 20:42 GMT)

@Chris Barns..I have never agreed with definition of a "good" pitch as given by cricket experts who suggest that if its difficult to bat on a certain pitch with uneven bounce and with too much seam/turn, then its not a good pitch. In Test cricket, what you need to see is a pitch offering something for the bowlers for all 5 days and batsmen should work hard for their runs. I am much happier seeing this pitch in India than others in the past where you win the toss and put 600 on the board in 1st 2 days and then, if pitch doesn't break enough, match is a draw or if it does break, you win the game. That would make for slow, boring cricket and would make winning the toss very very important. What this pitch has shown in last 3 days is if you apply yourself as a batsman, you can score and as a bowler, there are no free wickets and you need to earn them.

Posted by   on (February 23, 2013, 6:45 GMT)

Well done Moises Henriques on an exceptional debut. This innings may keep the Big Show out of the test side for a while..

Posted by dms1972 on (February 23, 2013, 6:35 GMT)

@class9ryan and @AhmedEsat, on this pitch Australia have a very clear advantage with over 300 runs already on the board. Australia's pace bowlers are far superior to India's and, if Ashwin can take 6 wickets on day one, imagine the carnage M.Clarke will cause from here on. This pitch appears tailor made for his bowling.

Posted by Simoc on (February 23, 2013, 5:34 GMT)

The pitch analysis and scores don't equate as normal. Ashwin 6 wickets on day one is great so lets hope it's swinging and seaming come day 4 or 5. But so far no-one can complain. Mostly it has been predictable outcomes apart from Henriques and Ashwin. It is to early to judge but I agree with sentiments expressed.Pitches around the world need to give fast bowlers encouragement early and spinners later or vice versa. The batting teams need to be around the 3 runs per over or more mark to keep crowds coming.

Posted by   on (February 23, 2013, 2:56 GMT)

@sarangsrk, Perth and a lot of the other grounds are not impossible to play on day 1. Neither is this one, but it is still like a normal day 3 or 4 pitch, in most other places across the cricket world. It makes for slow, boring play. Consistently you hear of ex-players and commentators saying that the pitches in SA and AUS are the best for a healthy game of cricket, with something in them for batters and bowlers across the 5 days. This is something that does not happen in India. They have the money, fix the issue.

Posted by class9ryan on (February 23, 2013, 0:22 GMT)

You would have 2 say India will be on top if the Aussie pacemen do not perform the 2nd day ... Australia should bat for the maximum possible time or else it would be India's game ... The fact is they have lost 7 wickets on day 1 .... God knows what would be their stay on a fourth day pitch

Posted by AhmedEsat on (February 22, 2013, 23:24 GMT)

Lets see what happens when India bat- Indian quicks couldn't take a single wicket. I'd be worried if I were Clark.

Posted by   on (February 22, 2013, 23:23 GMT)

The Indians will cry foul and say Aussies won it because they won the toss... When you create a pitch that looks like a 5th day pitch in Aus then it's your own fault!!

Posted by Lermy on (February 22, 2013, 23:07 GMT)

How can this pitch be described as a disgrace when Australia scored 316/7 so far, and joy of joys we should see a result? Test match pitches should be results pitches, not ones where two and a half innings are completed over 5 days.

Posted by ozziespirit on (February 22, 2013, 23:06 GMT)

This is a really flat pitch which will spin big time on day 5. The Indian spinners got spin today, but they really turn the ball. Lyon has got to try to vary his delivery speed more to make up for not turning the ball as much.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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