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October 11, 2008
Mitchell Johnson has said a change in foot direction helped him find the accuracy that led to his outstanding performance against India. During the 2007-08 series in Australia, Johnson regularly delivered wayward spells, particularly outside the off stump, but he showed he had fixed the flaw and benefited with a haul of 4 for 62.
"I have been working on a few little things around my feet position at the crease," Johnson said. "Last summer I was opening up my front leg and my front arm was going out. So I have tried to work really hard at getting my front arm and front leg going towards the off stump. That's probably helped me a little bit."
He has also downgraded his previously high standards in the hope of achieving greater overall success. "I have not been trying to put too much pressure on myself to bowl the perfect ball every ball," he said. "I tend to do that a little too much instead of just going out there and bowling."
In India's first innings Johnson did deliver some perfect balls. His most thoughtful dismissal of a group including Virender Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman was his removal of Sachin Tendulkar. "He was going pretty hard at the ball," Johnson said. "The one before he hit me through third man pretty hard, so I thought about a slower ball."
Tendulkar popped a catch to Cameron White at short cover to give Johnson his second wicket before following up with Laxman's edge. "To get those big names, it's pretty exciting to me," he said.
One area Australia need to improve is their bowling with the new ball. India raced to 68 for 0 on the second afternoon and Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan combined in a frenetic 80-run partnership on Saturday as the home team fought back to reach 313 for 8 at stumps.
Johnson said the bowlers were too aggressive. "They did get away from us, Harbhajan and Khan," he said. "When the tail-enders come in you probably just push a little bit too hard.
"To bowl to the tail-enders, you have got to be patient and bowl like you would at the top order." He was relieved when Shane Watson, who grabbed two wickets, picked up Harbhajan for 54 in the second-last over before stumps.
This is Johnson's first Test in India and he is enjoying the challenge of the conditions. "It's tough work and the wickets are different to back home," he said. "There are a few little cracks out there that we're trying to aim for. I wouldn't say it's a total graveyard."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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