Debutant Moises Henriques on Friday said that Australia skipper Michael Clarke's presence in the middle had a calming influence on him, who signalled his arrival on the big stage with a crucial half-century on the opening day of the first Test against India.
Henriques, who made 68 off 132 balls, was involved in a 151-run stand for the sixth wicket, which lifted Australia from 153 for five to 316 for seven by the end of day's play at the M A Chidambaram Stadium.
"The way Michael plays spin is different. He makes it easy down the wicket. I do not try and play as Michael does against spin. Playing with him helped me to be not nervous and I played calmly," Henriques told reporters.
It was a hard grind for the 26-year-old all-rounder, especially with six-wicket man Ravichandran Ashwin getting the ball to turn and bounce.
"I think Ashwin gets motivated to spin all the balls where he gets more bounce. It is quite hard to get out smothering his deliveries. He does not bowl many bad balls either.
"He is a disciplined bowler. He changed his pace up well and he hits same length all the time. It is very hard to score off him," Henriques said.
He felt that the pitch's loose soil could play some "tricks" on the fourth and fifth day.
"General wear and tear of energy obviously saps you out in the sun. I do not think there was sort of wearing any less or anything like that but the foot marks in the loose ground out there looked like a three-day wicket.
"Obviously the loose soil out there is going to play some tricks on the fourth and fifth days."
The Aussie said that first hour tomorrow will be very crucial.
"The first hour is very important for us. At this stage, the game is very balanced. Michael is in amazing form and hope he gets his two hundred."
Henriques said that the Indians did not bowl too many loose balls.
"It was tougher. It gets easier a bit after you face about 30 balls. It did not become easier because they just were disciplined in what they were trying to do. They were not giving too many bad balls. It is certainly hard grind out there but I enjoyed very much these games.
"As a batter I just had to keep grinding away. It is a hard ground and the spinners were rather disciplined."
Asked if India not fielding a specialist left-arm spinner was an advantage to Australia, he said, "I think it is obviously... because we have a lot of left-handers in our batting order. They played with two off spinners, there were lots of balls hitting stumps. Obviously, for right handers, if you miss anything you are going to be close to LBW."
Henriques said that he would have loved to finish the day undefeated.
"In this game it was our turn and we have to make it count. Unfortunately, I really missed out on the chance to finish the day and we could have added another 30 runs or so. But let me say that the game is balanced and it is going to be a big hour the first thing tomorrow."
Asked if he could have been sent lower down the order, " he said, "Obviously some guys got out. I would not say I was satisfied. To be honest, once you get out there, you just want to keep scoring more runs. I would have been satisfied if I had remained unbeaten.
As for the pace bowlers, he said, "I think they got the ball to move around a little bit and swing. We had a couple of set batsmen who can be there and play well against reverse swing as well.
First Published: February 22, 2013, 8:10 pm