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March 9, 2013
Fast bowlers who tour India could be forgiven for uttering the occasional f-word. Futile. Fruitless. Frustrating. Not many would call the job fun. Peter Siddle does. On a chronically unhelpful Chennai pitch, Siddle managed only the wicket of India's No.10 batsman Bhuvneshwar Kumar. In Hyderabad he had the struggling Virender Sehwag caught behind. Two wickets at the average of 81.00. Fun? Yeah, like a dentist's appointment.
But Siddle is always up for a challenge. He thrives on it. Naturally, things don't always work out, like when he bowled himself to near delirium on the final afternoon in Adelaide in November searching for the last few wickets Australia needed for victory against South Africa. In India, things haven't worked out either. Two losses and his series figures so far attest to that. But in the lead-up to the third Test in Mohali, where Siddle made his debut in 2008, he remained upbeat.
"I don't think you go out there thinking 'it's going to be a long day' or 'it's going to be hot out there, it's going to be hard work'," Siddle said of bowling in India. "It's going to be a challenge and that's what's fun about it. It's always hard work but you know it's going to be tough and you know you have to try different tricks to get the results over here and I think that's the challenge.
"It's probably a bit more mental over here. You have to do a bit more thinking about where you want to set fields and work with the captain on where you want to place fields, the areas you want to bowl to certain batsmen. It does take a little bit more thinking to go about it. It's good, it's fun, it's enjoyable. It is hard work but that's India."
James Pattinson found a way to have an impact during the first match in Chennai and collected six wickets, using his pace to great effect in short, sharp spells. Others over the years have managed to have success in India as well, notably Jason Gillespie, who collected 33 wickets at 21.72 there, and Glenn McGrath, who took 33 wickets at 21.30.
Like Siddle has in the past two Tests, they often toiled without the regular line-up of slips, instead working on forcing the batsmen into other false strokes. It is a strange feeling for a fast man to run in with no cordon during a Test match, but Siddle said apart from the occasional period when swing is available, as it was on the second morning in Hyderabad, edges were not the order of the day.
"You do miss that a little bit but you've got to play the conditions," Siddle said. "I think the past success, you look back to '04 and that's the way they went about it. They didn't go out there and try to nick off the top order, they knew they had to work hard and try to restrict boundaries and build pressure. That's the plan they went with.
"Any batter feels comfortable when they know they're scoring runs, or they know they can sit back and wait for that one loose ball an over that we're going to give them. We've just got to restrict that. We've got to make sure that one loose ball is every four or five overs, not every over. We know there's a lot of work to be done. But it does come down to the basics."
Australia will enter the Mohali Test down 2-0 but they can still retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy if they win the next two matches to create a 2-2 result. Siddle said such an outcome would be a remarkable effort given Australia's struggles in Chennai and Hyderabad.
"It would be a massive achievement," Siddle said. "We've let ourselves down in the first two matches. If we could get back to a level series and finish off like that I think it would be a great place to be after where we are at the moment. We'll be working hard to do whatever we can. If we level the series, we retain the trophy, and that's what it's all about. The boys are ready to fight for that and hopefully starting Mohali we can start on a good note and put the pressure on them straight away and go from there."
Now that would be fun.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala