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November 7, 2009
The injuries in Australia's squad have been the negative of the tour of India but the big positive has been the way the secondary players have stood up to help deliver a series lead. One such man was Clint McKay, the Victoria fast bowler who debuted in Hyderabad and finished with 3 for 59 from his ten overs.
Particularly impressive was the way he held his nerve in the dying stages of India's chase, when they needed 19 from 18 balls with four wickets in hand. With the first delivery of the 48th over, McKay deceived Sachin Tendulkar with a slower ball to have him caught at short fine leg for 175.
He also played his part in a run-out in the same over, taking the throw from his Victoria captain Cameron White to find Ravindra Jadeja short. McKay sent down several well-directed yorkers that kept the over to three runs and he was especially glad Tendulkar wasn't still around to guide the chase.
"I don't think there is a good place to bowl to Sachin," McKay told AAP. "The way he played was sensational, but in the end he didn't quite get them over the line. We did a good job of containing through the middle overs and finally got a few wickets late in the game."
Ricky Ponting was especially pleased with McKay's efforts towards the end of the match, when India appeared to be well on top. McKay finished with a better economy rate than the two leaders of the pace attack, Ben Hilfenhaus and Doug Bollinger, and was a key in getting Australia back into the match.
"He was very good, he was calm under pressure," Ponting said. "We had to experiment late in the innings, with lots of different slower balls and things to try and take some wickets. Full credit to Clint, he executed things really well, a really good debut on that sort of wickets, I think he ended up with 3 for 50-odd off his ten, and that's as good as anyone."
It has been a whirlwind week for McKay, who was called in to the squad when Brett Lee flew home and had never before met some of his Australia team-mates. His recent performance in the Champions League Twenty20 gave McKay a good idea of the conditions in India, and he was determined to enjoy himself regardless of how his first ODI unfolded.
"From being over here in the Champions League, Shane Harwood and Damien Wright, senior guys for Victoria, said no matter what happens just have smile on your face, walk back to your mark and do it again," he said. "There's going to be days when they hit fours and sixes, the batsman is allowed to play a good shot."
As it turned out, McKay had good reason to smile. He could well have jumped a couple of places in Australia's list of fast bowlers but he knows that it will be tough to force his way into the side during Australia's home summer.
"You hope," he said. "The guys out from injury will come back in the side, there is always a pecking order, but as soon as you get an opportunity you have to make the most of it so when another one comes you are top of the list again. I am realistic about the way things are."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.