Sydney [Australia], January 7 (ANI): On a day when the Indian bowlers had to toil hard at the Sydney Cricket Ground, pacer Mohammad Siraj said that the team had planned on bowling short balls to Will Pucovski looking at the batsman's history of being troubled by the short-pitched delivery.
Debutant Will Pucovski rode his luck and Marnus Labuschagne showed resolve as the duo hit half-centuries to put Australia in a dominating position in a rain-curtailed opening day of the Pink Test on Thursday. At stumps, Australia's score read 166/2 in 55 overs with Labuschagne and Smith unbeaten on 67 and 31 respectively.
"When we played a practice game against Australia A, we bowled short balls to Pucovski then also, we were seeing that Pucovski was not keen on leaving the ball, he was going after it, so we had a plan of bowling short balls to him, but our main focus was bowling good line and length to him," said Siraj while replying to an ANI query during the virtual press conference.
Siraj had struck in the fourth over to hand India an early breakthrough as opener David Warner -- returning after missing two Tests due to groin injury -- walked back after scoring just five runs. Before the start of play on day one of the third Test between India and Australia, Siraj was seen in tears while singing the national anthem. Siraj had lost his father before the Australia tour, but the pacer decided to stay back to fulfill his father's dream of seeing him play Test cricket for the country.
"I remembered my dad during the national anthem, my dad always wanted me to play Test cricket. If he was there today, he would have seen me playing," said Siraj.
Siraj also credited South Africa pacer, Dale Steyn, for helping him in developing a good outswinger. Wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant dropped two chances, but Siraj said the bowlers cannot be too upset about that as they need to focus on bowling the next delivery.
"During the lockdown, I worked on improving my outswinger, I spoke to Dale Steyn about it during IPL 2020, he helped me and now I have started bowling outswingers. Test cricket is all about patience. Bowlers' patience is really tested in Test cricket, we have to adapt and we have to bowl in the right areas," said Siraj.
"It (catches being dropped) is a part of the game, bowlers do get upset. But these things happen and one can only get focused on the next ball. The wicket is good, we were just planning on creating pressure, it's an easy wicket, our bouncers were also not that effective," he added.
With rain and a wet outfield playing spoilsport in the second session as well, almost two hours were lost. The second session also saw Indian pacers bowling on the shorter side, and as a result, Pucovski and Labuschagne had no problems in either leaving the ball or getting behind the line to defend it. It finally took a full delivery from debutant Navdeep Saini in the third session to remove Pucovski (62). The opener's dismissal saw Smith join Labuschagne in the middle and the duo played confidently and helped the side cross the 150-run mark.
Smith and Labuschagne added 60 runs for the third wicket before the umpires decided to remove the bails and end the day's proceedings. (ANI)