Sydney: India pacer Mohammad Siraj called the Sydney pitch a batting beauty but said the turn it is offering to spinners has given his side a lot of hope moving forward after Australia claimed day one honours in the third Test here.
Australia were nicely placed at 166 for two at stumps on day one with Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne looking in fine touch. This was after debutant opener Will Pucovski struck 62 to give Australia a strong platform after a four-hour rain disruption.
“It is very a flat wicket. Our plan was to build pressure and not try too much as it is a very easy wicket for the batsman. Even the bouncers are not carrying as well it was in the the earlier games,” said Siraj, who made his debut in the previous game.
“But Test cricket it is all about patience and we must keep that in mind,”
The odd short balls from the fast bowlers did not trouble the home batsmen on the opening day.
Trusting the trueness of the pitch, the likes of Smith and Labuschagne were not afraid to even step out against the spinners. But the turn late in the day has given India encouragement for Friday.
“It is because of the easy nature of the surface that their batsmen stepped out but when they saw the ball turning sharply late in the day, they went back to the crease,” Siraj observed.
“Let’s see what happens tomorrow. The plan is to bowl in one tight channel and build pressure.”
When the Indian national anthem was played out before the start of the game, Siraj got teary-eyed thinking about his father, who died in November. The pacer had stayed back in Australia to fulfil his dream of seeing him play for India.
Asked about Thursday’s emotional moment that was captured on camera, Siraj said: “Just remembered my father at that time. I was really emotional. He wanted me to see playing Test cricket.
“Wish he could see me playing for India.”
On to the match again and Siraj said the bowlers made a conscious effort to send down an odd short bouncer to debutant Will Pucovski, who has suffered from concussion on multiple occasions in his short career.
“Last match (the practice match) we were bowling short to him and in this game also we tried that as he was playing them and not leaving.
“So, the plan was to surprise him with an odd bouncer without shifting focus on line and length.”
Siraj was also seen talking a lot to fellow pacer Navdeep Saini, who is making his debut here and dismissed a well-set Pucovski.
“Saini and I have played a lot of matches together for India A, so we bond really well. I was just telling him to do what we did in domestic cricket and India A.”
On how dropped catches affect the bowlers’ morale in the wake of Rishabh Pant grassing Pucvoski twice in the day, Siraj added: “It is part of the game and you do get upset as a bowler when it happens.”
“But it is something we can’t do much about...It becomes important to move on and focus on the next over,” he added....