India v Australia, 3rd Test, Mohali, 3rd day March 16, 2013

'Lots of fun' getting to 99 - Starc


Mitchell Starc has described his innings of 99 as "lots of fun", despite the agony of falling one run short of a Test century. Starc came within touching distance of becoming the first Australian in more than 65 years to score a Test hundred batting from No.9 or below, but instead he edged behind off Ishant Sharma.

Starc smiled to himself as he walked off the field, disappointed at the missed opportunity but pleased at the fact that he was able to contribute so much to Australia's batting effort. Starc said he was nervous once triple-figures came within sight and hoped it wouldn't be his only chance to register a Test century.

"I was just enjoying it up until I got out," Starc said. "At the start of the day I was just hanging around for hopefully Steve Smith to get a ton. Unfortunately he didn't get there and that was just a lot of fun to play the way I liked to (after Smith's dismissal) and play my shots. To fall one short is disappointing and hopefully I can get another chance one day. I felt a bit nervous and it probably felt a bit harder ... when you get to 99. It's something I can learn from and I'm still happy I got that far"

After the departure of Smith for 92, Starc became the architect of Australia's lower-order run scoring and added 51 in a ninth-wicket partnership with Nathan Lyon. He was helped by the defensive captaincy of MS Dhoni, who at times pushed as many as six men back onto the boundary to gift Starc singles - although sometimes he pinched twos - and get Lyon on strike.

Lyon, who had batted for 85 minutes in the second innings in Chennai, was untroubled by the plan and it was only when Starc reached 99 that Dhoni put pressure on him by bringing the field in. That led to a series of plays and misses against Ishant as Starc tried to force the ball through the infield and in the end he edged low to the left of Dhoni.

"It doesn't happen too often," Starc said of the field being back for a lower-order batsman like himself. "The way he [Dhoni] captains is probably pretty reactive so if I play my shots he's going to push them back. I just enjoyed the moment being out there with the bat."

Starc was willing to go over the top earlier in his innings, including one especially handsome chip over the head of the bowler Ishant for four. He didn't thrash the ball like he did during his 68 not out from 43 balls against South Africa in Perth, but rather showed a wide range of more conventional strokes that suggest he will be an especially useful lower-order player for Australia in future.

"I've got a couple [of hundreds] in club cricket games, but it's a bit different playing Test cricket. Hopefully I get a chance to get back there one day," Starc said. "I enjoy batting, growing up as a kid I was a wicketkeeper, so I'd like to think I can hold a stick and be able to score a few runs if need be. All the bowlers work hard on our batting, we put a bit of emphasis on our tail scoring runs and we did that in this innings."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • James on March 17, 2013, 3:14 GMT

    The writing was on the wall when the tail smashed 150 in less than a session. No disrespect to Starc, of course. But the track is a total road. What interests me is how it changed so markedly overnight, with India coming into bat. Maybe there was a shift in the earth's gravitational field, or something.

  • TR on March 17, 2013, 3:03 GMT

    >>"It was only when Starc reached 99 that Dhoni put pressure on him by bringing the field in". That is exactly why we call him defensive captain.

    I wonder what makes Dhoni defensive, is it that he thinks 1. "reducing the boundaries will get wickets" or is it simply that 2. "my bowlers cant take wicket, so let me at least curtail the runs" ??? Both are wrong isn't it? (in test cricket).

    Dhoni would NOT have seen Erappalli Prasanna bowling his flighted off spins. Wow, what a magic bowler he was. (I have seen). He used to smile when he walks back to his bowling mark after the batsman has just hit a boundary of his previous ball. That means to him "the batsman is on trap".

    Mr. Dhoni, some times we have to "trap batsmen" by giving away some runs. One or two boundary shots does not mean the bowler is bad or the fielding setup needs to be changed! ... Some body (Mr. Gavaskar/LShiva) you guys would know right? Please talk to Dhoni and the bowlers too. Thanks.

  • alen on March 17, 2013, 2:51 GMT

    Mistakes australia made siddle was given chance to bat up the order than starc especially when there middle order smith,haddin and henriques all these batsmen are right handers sending starc will have left and right combination at the crease which can cause problems to bowlers which exactly happened when smith and strac were batting. Also if you go with records siddle highest score is only 43 with avg of 14.65 and starc has 68 against SA with 24.12 avg.even records say starc is better batsmen. We can see the damage caused for the australia bowling attack for axing their strike bowler pattinson.when you dont have a strike bowler why they axe strike bowlers .Australia is having problem of all round phobia henriques,maxwell,watson,smith now strac will join the list with his 99, henriques innings in chennai test and cemented his place now smith and strac did the same so where is the place for a quality bowler like pattinson in team axe another spinner for delhi test lyon or dhoherthy?

  • Simon on March 17, 2013, 1:50 GMT

    I predict Starc to bat at number 3 in the next innings!

  • Chris on March 17, 2013, 1:21 GMT

    If memory serves, that other Mitch got a 90-odd at his first attempt at a century andI think has two centuries since. I think Mitch S has the goods to get a century or two himself.

  • Akshay on March 17, 2013, 0:57 GMT

    Despite being an Indian fan, I appreciate your work Mitch. You deserved a century.

  • Graham on March 16, 2013, 23:56 GMT

    When will Test captains learn, a number 9 batsman is 9 for a reason and shouldnt be gifted free singles. Not only free singles but Starc could just swing through the ball keep it down and get 4 or 0. Then the obligetarory bring the field in on 99 - suddenly a couple of his shots get stopped and he is out. India are dominating this series with potentially one of the worse captains to ever captain the game imagine where we would be if they had a better captain.

  • Dummy4 on March 16, 2013, 22:54 GMT

    Come on, it was no defensive captaincy by Dhoni rather he was prudent to plug the gaps otherwise india were chsing something much more. Starc set an example for Dhavan and he followed. On the other hand morale of Indian bowlers was down due to unknown reasons and they were easy target mostly for aussie openning and lower order or raher tailenders. I still believe that if indian cricket managemnt gives Dhoni his eleven then tendulkar will be no more. This test was chance to try to live without tendkulkar.

  • Dummy4 on March 16, 2013, 22:27 GMT

    You can talk to Chetan Chouhan who missed scoring a Century and getting out on 99 and 90s many times and that too as an opener.Unfortunately for him he never got Test Hundred. But like mentioned here,MItchell Starc, it was Dhoni who let the pair score runs from the first over by not taking the new ball and being defensive later on and allowing them to groove in. But that is lot of water under the bridge and thanks to Shikhar's scoring rate India is in with a chance to put the screw on Australia. Australians have a big Shikhar ( Shikhar mean "Peak" ) to climb to get out of trouble and Murli is there to make sure India walks towards Vijay ( Victory ) on the 4th Day.