India v Australia, 3rd Test, Mohali, 5th day March 18, 2013

'We believed we could win the Test' - Clarke


Australia's captain Michael Clarke has said that a defensive, time-wasting mindset never entered his thinking as India slowly cruised to a six-wicket victory that won them the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Mohali. After Australia were bowled out in the second session on day five, it left India chasing 133 in a minimum of 27 overs and while Clarke could have employed delaying tactics to ensure Australia did not give India any extra time, his focus was firmly on pushing for victory himself.

India's innings began approximately half an hour before tea, meaning that even if Australia had used only their fast bowlers it would have been a struggle to bowl only the minimum 12 overs before the start of the final hour. Instead, Clarke rotated his bowlers quite normally and got through an extra nine overs, which meant that in the end India had 36 overs to chase their target. They got there in the 34th.

A draw would have been nothing but a consolation for Clarke's men, who needed a victory in order to stay alive in the series and retain any hope of keeping the Border-Gavaskar Trophy following their losses in Chennai and Hyderabad. Although India never looked in serious trouble, they did lose four wickets along the way and Clarke said breakthroughs were not only Australia's only path to victory but the best way of restricting the runs.

"We still believed that we could win the Test," Clarke said. "We thought there were going to be opportunities to take wickets, knowing that India were going to have to score at a decent pace. In that first hour when we went out and bowled we could have taken as much time as possible, wasted time to slow the scoring and not bowl many overs because I knew once 3.30 came around, we had to bowl 15 overs in the last hour.

"But I don't think that's the way we play our cricket. We try to win and unfortunately that wasn't the case. We couldn't get a draw, so we deal with a loss. But I think our players deserve a lot of credit for the way they tried their best. Our fast bowlers worked their absolute backsides off and we were very close to hanging on for a draw.

"It was all about taking wickets. We had to try to win the Test match and even if you defend, the best form of defence is taking wickets. If you want to slow scoring whether it be in T20, one-day cricket or Tests taking wickets is the best way to slow the scoring and that was our goal, with 130 on the board you never know what can happen in this game but I think the boys showed a lot of fight and deserve credit for that."

Australia's fight with the ball was worthy of credit but the lack of a big hundred from any of their batsmen in either innings was again costly. Australia's first innings of 408 looked good until India posted 499, and the difference was that Shikhar Dhawan and M Vijay both passed 150 and put on a 289-run stand, while Australia's innings featured four scores above 70 but none of them turned into triple-figures.

Conceding huge partnerships and failing to build their own have both been ongoing issues for the Australians in this series. In Chennai, MS Dhoni scored a double-century and put on 140 for the ninth wicket with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, which turned the match, and in Hyderabad Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara compiled 370 together. Australia's highest stand of the series is 151 by Clarke and Moises Henriques in Chennai, and Clarke's hundred there is Australia's only one of the trip. India's batsmen have made six tons.

"Credit needs to go to the India batters, that's for sure, and as a batting unit that's what we're trying to do as well," Clarke said. "We're making just as many fifties as India but nowhere near as many hundreds. We have to be more disciplined once we get to fifty, to stay nice and patient, swim between the flags I guess and go on and make a big score.

"But I think their batters throughout this series have made the most of conditions. Again in their first innings they are making big scores. I think in the last two Test matches we've shown if we can break that partnership, we've bowled really well. Apart from the first partnership the other nine wickets fell for 210 runs for us, which was a really good sign for us. And it was similar in the second innings. It's just breaking that big partnership that we need to keep working on."

This was the sixth consecutive Test Australia have lost in India and at 3-0 with one match remaining, the series has been by far the worst under Clarke's leadership. Australia won 3-0 at home to Sri Lanka this summer after fighting hard against South Africa but losing 1-0, and Clarke said the team would need to find ways of handling foreign conditions and not just being a threat at home.

"I think it's probably a very fair indication of where both teams are at," Clarke said of the 3-0 scoreline. "I don't want to talk for India. But for the Australian team it's probably a fair indication. We're playing some really good, consistent cricket at home back in Australia, in conditions we're very used to, very accustomed to, but we're not performing as well as we'd like when we go overseas in conditions we're not used to.

"That's an area we've spoken about as a group for a while now, over the past 12 months. We continue to work hard on that. As disappointing as it is that we can't level the series now that we're 3-0 down, I think the players individually and the team have learnt a lot over the first three Test matches. We'd love to go home with a win in this last Test in Delhi."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Anupam on March 20, 2013, 11:54 GMT

    Yes very positive attitude by clarke. 2 runs to win & 70 overs are left , 10 wickets in hand-- But I believe we will definately win. we will bowl 69 overs maiden then in the last over we will pick 6 wickets very simple. Believe in the Fighting spirit.everything is possible.

  • Dummy4 on March 19, 2013, 18:15 GMT

    Clarke is a positive captain but to say he believed he could win on the last day is nothing short of "kidding oneself", Aussies would have done well to last the final day and earn a respectable draw. Being positive is all good but not at the risk of divorcing logic.

  • Rajaram on March 19, 2013, 15:05 GMT

    Michael Clarke's approach of playng fair is in SHARP CONTRAST to the SICK way Andrew Stauss employed delay tactics at Cardiff - he sent a fellow with gloves (that were not asked for) and a physio Moobs (who was not sent for) - TWICE. England drew the match.Hats off to Clarke and the Team management for not complaining against Aleem Dar (ICC Umpire of the Year? Sic) when the whole world could see that Phil Hughes was not out lbw - the ball was going down leg,and against Umpire Kettleborough for giving Michael Clarke out caught - no deflection + no ball. Had it been India, they would have asked for their sacking and abandoning the Tour like they did in 2008. They ensured Umpire Steve Bucknor was removed. Sic.

  • uncle bob on March 19, 2013, 14:15 GMT

    Good thinking by Clarke. He could afford to be positive and lose the match. He knew even a draw will end in losing the series so the only option he had was to try to win and stay in the series. Knowledgeable Australian fans and media understands and knows that. As for as captains from subcontinent, they cant afford that positivity. Subcontinental media, pseudo-experts and fans will devour any subcontinental captain for losing a match when they can draw it by some gamesmanship and delaying tactic.

  • Anupam on March 19, 2013, 13:46 GMT

    @ Deepanjan Datta on (March 18, 2013, 16:13 GMT) about your featured comment. You told here how Clarke is positive skipper. Look Fella positive thinking or negative thinking is a perception but the truth is Fact. and fact could be positive for you or negative for you. The fact was on day 5 was everyone knows that Aus not even to capable for draw and he talks about Winning.

  • DINESH on March 19, 2013, 13:15 GMT

    I appreciate the spirit of Cricket shown by the Aussies. Had it been Ganguly, Strauss, Nasser Hussain, Stephen Flemming, Jayawardena and all Pakistan Captains, on field discussions would have been made once in two overs , two bouncers bowled per over, too many wide like balls bowled, even spinners taken a long run for bowling and totally bowled 15 overs in 2.30 hours time. But Aussies bowled more than 30 overs and lost the match.

  • Dummy4 on March 19, 2013, 9:29 GMT

    those assuming dhoni wud have gone for the draw had he been in clarke's shoes- Whats wrong in it ? Look this is India...Owing to the recent failures, dhoni has been under a lot of pressure..there is media, which at one instance, speaks abt showin him the doors and at the other(the moment we won the first match) said he is the best captain India has produced....this is a nation which will take anything but a loss..a lot was not made abt the final test against england coz we dint lose that match..although we lost the series but we managed to derive some amount of pride (no matter how miniscule) from the last short..dhoni will always go for a draw in situations where he isnt sure if his batsmen or bowlers can win it for him..

  • Shanmuga on March 19, 2013, 8:09 GMT

    @Damian123: I guess, you should immediately take the Mensa test and I won't be surprised if you score 170+ while Einstein's IQ is guestimated to be at 160! You understood my comment exactly to the word, didn't u!?! The article talks abt how Australia could have got away just bowling 27 overs as per "rules" while they gallantly tried bowling 36! Me & few of my lifeminded friends here are trying to fathom how the Aussies could have tried to bowl just 27 overs in 150+ mins!! Anyway, don't worry about it and just focus on your studies when you are in kindergarten!!

  • Anupam on March 19, 2013, 7:53 GMT

    My question to my friends have you seen Australia struggling like this in the 100 yrs of history. Aus is a very dominant test & odi team in the world. OK win & loss is another thing and courage & heart is another thing. For betterment of Australia I think ACB must take off captaincy from Clarke. For Oz fans don't say like this "we are with you PuP in bad days"--- change your attitute to this "WE are with you AUSTRALIA is tough days". Aus team lost mojo, Every team fears Aus earlier. if Oz will tour Bangaladesh i don't think they will handle bangladesh spinners and their flat pitch. this will be the real upset and also i think clarke will take off his name as bang tour excuse will be REST- Too much crick.

  • Naresh on March 19, 2013, 7:45 GMT

    Differing opinions will be formed of Clarke. Some will say he is soft and others will say he plays the game in true spirit. Oz are in a crisis right now - they had the option of keeping all their team problems amongst themselves or expose players who were not towing the line.Their spin bowlers are less potent than India. their batsman did not work out what needs to be done when facing spin unlike England who improved as they played more. All teams need to respect India at home.