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Michael Hussey - Mike's Corner

He fights till the last ball, just the way we do, feels Mike Hussey

Tuesday, October 27, 2021
'We respect Harbhajan'

Coming to India to play cricket is always an exciting thing. The crowds here are so fanatical that it takes the competition to another level and that is something I cherish. There is nothing like playing in front of passionate followers of the sport and the extent of their knowledge of cricket has always astonished me.

It was no different in Vadodara during our first ODI. The atmosphere was daunting, with anything that the Indians did receiving thunderous applause. The noise that the Vadodara fans generated can be unnerving normally but since we have been touring India often of late, we knew what to expect and could deal with it. For it is not just noise we have to take into account, there is also the manner in which any Australian boundary or Indian wicket is met with dead silence that can put off someone who is here for the first time.

Australian crowds are not very dissimilar in terms of the noise-making factor but they do reserve some of it for the opposition too!

Coming to the match itself, even as we set forth for the seven-match tour — a length I am comfortable with I must admit — we were aware that it was not going to be easy. We were expecting the Indians to fight till the end in each game and so it was. In the end, after we had managed to hold our nerve and sneak through, the collective sigh in our camp was one of great relief.

Harbhajan Singh, everyone knows, has had his share of run-ins with us but he once again showed what a competitor he is. Once we had Dhoni and Jadeja out, we thought we had the game in our bag but this guy never gave up. That’s why we have a lot of respect for Harbhajan, this is how we play the game too.

As far as my own innings went, sometimes it just happens to be your day. It is important to note here that there had been some good partnerships prior to my coming in and thus all I needed to do was build on them. Ricky and Paine were wonderful in the way they set the innings up and it felt good to be able to finish with a flourish.

Our bowlers backed up nicely and until the Harbhajan-Praveen stand, we were in control. Here the inability to use Brett Lee for his full quota of overs — until the time of writing I was not sure what exactly the problem was — could have cost us. His ability to reverse swing and bowl those lethal yorkers was much needed and it was a big loss for us.

That said, one of the things we Australians pride ourselves on is the fact that someone always step up. On Sunday it was Peter Siddle. He’s a quality bowler and a great asset to the team.

In the overall context, the opening game seems to have set the tempo for the rest of the series. Our biggest challenge is to come to India and play against the Indians and with the imminent return of Yuvraj Singh the challenge is only going to get bigger. These are two evenly matched teams, so watch out for some great contest.