Before Peter Siddle returned to the venue of his debut, his tour figures read — 24.3-5-66-1, 3-2-4-0 and 31-6-92-1. The latest in Australia’s long tradition of fast bowlers, sans the twirling moustache but the same puffed-up chest demeanour, hasn’t had an enjoyable series against India.
The lead bowler — a mantle he acquired and not thrust upon him — couldn’t make an impact at all. Apart from few bursts of aggression, he was more or less ineffective, his disciplined off-stump line and the six-pence length a distant memory. “Before the Test, I was disappointed with my performances and what I was lacking was building pressure and setting up good partnerships for the team,” he admitted.
The sight of Mohali greens would have had a restorative effect on his morale — it was here he announced he arrival in Tests with a bouncer that pinged his helmet and almost knocked Gautam Gambhir off his feet. He toiled 43 overs for four wickets in that match, and if ever he needed an inspiration, a mere glance at the scorecard would have sufficed.
While on Saturday he laboured without results, on Sunday he was nothing less than inspirational, steaming in and giving the batsmen little away. Unlike in previous innings, his pitch-map resembled a cluster and not like a scatter. With the new ball, he was the sharpest thus far in the series, snaring Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, before he came back to whip off India’s tail. The more aggressive he becomes, the more contentment he spreads. It’s at once infectious. “The bowling today from both ends, the partnerships and how we planned to go about getting the wickets, we did that and I was the lucky one who got the results. Anyone could have. I think there was a bit more fight on the fourth day. We knew we had to go out there and bowl to our plans and slow it down and put a bit of pressure back on them which I think we did,” he said.
The Victorian bowler exemplifies the pastoral country-town grit. He knows he has to demonstrate the same when, and if, he gets a turn to bat, and he promises to fight. “They set us a few more than we would have liked to be chasing going back out there but we have done well. We lost more wickets than we hoped but that’s what we have to do, we have to keep pushing along,” he said.