'Clarke's presence calmed nerves'

Talks about the methods Australian batsmen might adopt against Indian spinners had formed a major part in the build-up to the latest Indo-Australia series, and the first day offered a pointer to it.

If Englishmen’s strategy was based on their belief in their defensive abilities in the recent series that they won 2-1, the Aussies showed on Friday that aggression can also fetch some dividends here. The finest part of Australian innings on the day came when skipper Michael Clarke and debutant Moises Henriques stitched together an innings-saving 151-run stand for the sixth wicket, elaborating Australian philosophy against spin.

Clarke used his twinkling toes to reach out to the ball, smothering the spin, while Henriques was a little more traditional, playing with the spin -- however marginal it was -- and occasionally using his long stride to reach the pitch of the ball.
Henriques explained the strategy. “Obviously, the way Michael plays spin is completely different to how I play it. He uses his feet, down the wicket…gets a big stride out. I don’t try and play spin like he does. He can move his feet a little bit quicker than I can. But just to have him up the other end, calming the nerves, having someone lead the way like he did, is very calming,” he said.

The way Clarke and Henriques batted also offered a lesson for some of the top order batsmen, especially David Warner and Phil Hughes, who looked unsure about their footwork -- whether to stay back in the crease or to reach out for the ball.
Ashwin exploited their double-mindedness to telling effect, and Warner’s dismissal was a case in study. The stocky left-hander often misread the length during the course of his fifty on the day, often getting caught deep in the crease. On this occasion, the New South Welshman couldn’t bring his bat down in time to a fuller delivery from Ashwin, and he was plumb in front of the wicket.

Henriques offered some solace. “With the amount of spin out there, there were still a lot of balls hitting the stumps. If you missed anything, you were going to be very close to lbw or bowled.  But they’ll get their opportunity in the games and innings to come. In this game, it was our turn and we had to make it count,” he said before reminding his colleagues at top about a lost chance. 

“Unfortunately, I thought we missed out on a chance to finish the day 5 for 330. That would have been a really good day for us.”

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