The day just got miserable for Mitchell Starc — to compound the misery off falling a run short of his maiden hundred, his bowling was rendered ineffective by Indian openers Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay. His 11 overs cost 48 runs. Nine-Test-old Starc was disappointed with both, but dwells on the brighter side. “Hopefully, another day I would get to that hundred. In a way I’m disappointed, but I’m happy that I could make a useful contribution. Initially, I just wanted to help (Steve) Smith get to his hundred. After he got out, I went after the bowlers,” he said.
All was smooth — in fact he exceeded the expectation — until he stumbled into the 90s. Nerves that were never apparent crept into his game. Throughout the 90s, he was shaky — an under-edged boundary and a string of pokes and misses, before Ishant Sharma nailed him, a ball that he would have otherwise left unattended. “I was enjoying until then before and then I lost my patience. But I enjoyed my batting and in the end it was satisfying,” he said. While he emphasised his value with the willow, his bowling craved for direction.
As his pitch-map indicates, he was all over the place. He was marginally better to Murali Vijay, there was hardly any consistency with his length to Dhawan, who hit seven boundaries. “We didn’t bowl as well as we had expected, but he (Dhawan) was middling almost every ball. We tried different things, but nothing worked for us. He was incredible through the off side and we didn’t adjust properly. We fed him with more balls on the off side,” he said.
With the deficit being only 125, Australia need early wickets on the fourth day to get back into the game. “We need back-to-back wickets early in the game and bowl them out as early as possible. But as we saw in Hyderabad, if you break a big partnership, we can get the others wickets cheaply,” he said.
“The pitch hasn’t changed much from Friday. It’s tough to bowl. We have to be patient. We need to hang in somehow,” said Starc.