India v Australia, 2nd Test, Mohali, 1st day October 17, 2008

'We actually finished off all right' - Siddle

Ali Cook


Peter Siddle: "It being me puts me in the record books. To get him [Sachin Tendulkar] out is a great thrill, a real privilege" © Getty Images
 

A day Australia feared at lunch would become impossible turned into something less intimidating by stumps. Not that the tourists had reason to be pleased. Just that there was relief in the camp following the earlier desperation.

Australia's mid-day fightback prevented them from being out of the game and a couple of hours later an Indian total of 311 for 5 felt like the situation was almost even. The home side is well ahead, but Australia will remain in the contest if they can dismiss the hosts quickly on the second morning. Given the pitch's current condition even that could be a tough ask.

India's batsmen showed their might on a surface made for them and Australia's attack, which was missing Stuart Clark and carried a debutant in Peter Siddle, struggled for impact at the beginning and the end. The first hour felt like the opening of a one-day game, with Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir slashing at any bowling misdirection and racing to 70 in the 15th over.

Despite a brief and unexpected rally of 3 for 17 in the middle session, the day finished as it had begun - with India in control. "We actually finished off alright, five wickets for only 311 in the end," Siddle said. "When considering in the first session they were 1 for 150 at one stage, we came out of it in not a bad position."

Siddle experienced the sort of return a fast bowler playing his 13th first-class match could have expected. He showed zippy speed and flashes of hope, the same ones which have impressed the selectors who want him to be a long-term option, but was not helped by the tendency to lose his line. At this level, against these batsmen, there isn't any margin to lapse. He recognised the "massive step up" in intensity but started to relax in his second spell.

In one over in the morning to Rahul Dravid, Siddle could not believe a reasonable ball had been flicked to square leg for four. He just stared at the batsman in disbelief. Later in the over a fuller ball went to the midwicket boundary. Life at this level is tough. Bowling at Sachin Tendulkar was harder, but more rewarding.

Siddle kept sprinting in without success until he picked up Tendulkar in his first over with the second new ball. Two fours were followed by a play and a miss and an edge to Matthew Hayden at first slip. It was a satisfying note after he had been the bowler operating when Tendulkar became the game's highest run-scorer.

"It being me puts me in the record books," Siddle said. "To get him out is a great thrill, a real privilege."

Showing an old-school fast bowler's outlook, he started his Test career with a fierce, short delivery around 140kph that was perfect. Gambhir took his eyes off the ball as he ducked, providing Siddle with his first scalp.

"I went with the bouncer and it wasn't a bad first delivery," he said. "I think I broke his helmet, so that's always pleasing." Brett Lee used to speak like that too.

The Australians talk about bowling in partnerships, building the pressure in the hope that the guy at the other end can benefit from a maiden. Siddle bowled only two in 18 overs as he returned figures of 1 for 80.

However, he was able to watch the fine work of Lee and, particularly, Mitchell Johnson throughout the second and third sessions. Lee recovered from a poor opening and Johnson showed his growing maturity with three wickets and superb control. Any debutant needs to learn quickly but, faced with such a powerful batting order in foreign conditions, Siddle has to be particularly attentive in order to help his new side.