We cannot afford to give a sniff to India: Michael Clarke

Michael Clarke accepted that his performance with the bat in the first Test was poor Getty Images

Melbourne: Dec 30, 2011

Australia captain Michael Clarke is delighted with the performance of his side at Melbourne, where they beat India by 122 runs on Thursday, but is also not underestimating the challenge ahead for his transitional team in the remaining three Tests of the Border-Gavaskar series.

“There’s such a long way to go in this series,” he said. “It means nothing come Sydney (next week).

“Against such a good team, you can’t afford to give them a sniff. When you’re on top you need to make the most of that. We’ll take some confidence out of this Test match no doubt but there’s a long way to go.”

Skipper Michael Clarke saluted his three pacemen for twice knocking over India’s strong batting lineup to earn Australia an emphatic winning start to the four-Test series in Melbourne on Thursday.

The Australian pace trio of James Pattinson, Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus shared 19 wickets to restrict India to a two-innings total of 451 as the home side romped to a 122-run victory in four days.

The pace attack reduced India’s regal top order to 81 for six as the tourists failed to come close to the challenging target of 292 runs needed for victory at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Clarke, whose team rebounded spectacularly from their shattering seven-run defeat to lowly New Zealand in Hobart earlier this month, praised his bowlers for their stout-hearted efforts.

“It was a really hard-fought Test match and we have to be at our best to beat India,” said Clarke, who improved his record as Test skipper to four wins from nine Tests.

“They’ve got a lot of class players, their batting order is as strong as any batting order in the world, so for our bowlers to have success I think they deserve a lot of credit.

“It helps when you’ve got three fast bowlers bowling with great control, good pace. That makes a big difference.”

Pattinson, 21, picked up his second man-of-the-match award in only his third Test match after taking match figures of six for 108 and hitting a vital unbeaten 37 in the second innings to frustrate India’s efforts to restrict Australia’s lead.

Australia’s three pacemen also contributed significantly with the bat, with Siddle hitting 41 in the first innings and Hilfenhaus chipping in with knocks of 19 and 14 along with Pattinson’s two unbeaten knocks.

“The advantage we have at the moment is ‘Sidds’ and ‘Patto’ are making runs so they’re making up for a few of us like me. I didn’t make any runs,” Clarke said.

But Clarke denied Australia were falling prey to a top-order brittleness, after spectacular batting collapses against South Africa in Cape Town, New Zealand in Hobart and in the second innings against India in Melbourne.

Australia crashed to 27 for four before Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey restored the second innings with a century partnership.

“If we can knock over such a strong batting lineup like India for the amount of runs we have in this Test match, there’s got to be something in the wicket as well,” he said.

“It can’t just be our batters. We copped a bit of criticism for being four for not many again in the second innings. There’s reasons for Cape Town. There’s reasons for Hobart. They’ve been bowling-friendly conditions. I’m really happy with our batters’ plans. We’re doing all the right things. It’s just about having the confidence and freedom to continue to back ourselves.” (AFP)