We got it wrong at the end - Starc happy despite India rally

By Sports Desk December 06, 2018

Mitchell Starc was delighted with Australia's bowling on the whole on the opening day against India but acknowledged a poor finish let the tourists back into the first Test.

India were 86-5 just after lunch as the hosts took complete control, before Cheteshwar Pujara's 123 ensured his side ended the day on a respectable 250-9.

Despite the disappointing end to a day that included spectacular dismissals as Usman Khawaja caught Virat Kohli and Pat Cummins ran out Pujara with a direct hit, Starc was keen to focus on the positives.

The bowler took 2-63 and felt that Australia's preparation paid dividends early in the day.

"I think we've planned and prepared really well for this week and had a lot of vision to look at [in terms of] how India have played in the past," Starc said.

"They did go quite hard but we bowled exceptionally well for the first four hours, especially when the ball got soft and stopped moving around. The scoreboard never got away from us.

"I thought we bowled really well for four hours, probably pretty well for another hour and probably got it a bit wrong at the end there.

"Pujara batted a lot of time, he's someone who likes to absorb pressure and bat a long time, and credit to him he scored a fantastic hundred today.

"But I think if you asked us at the start of the day if we'd take losing the toss and [India] being 250-9 at stumps, we'd bite your arm off."

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    Both Australia and India downplayed an incident between Tim Paine and Virat Kohli during day four of the second Test in Perth, insisting it was "just good banter" between the two captains.

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    "It is a part of the game. You play Test cricket for a long time; players might get carried away in the moment," he said.

    "If there's no sledging, you might not enjoy the game as much. When there's aggression, more people will come to watch the match."

    Paine attempted to stir the pot again during India's second innings later in the day, as he was heard on the stump microphone asking Murali Vijay a question about Kohli.

    "I know he's your captain, but you can't seriously like him as a bloke?" Australia's skipper said to the opening batsman.

    The home side's behaviour is in the spotlight following the ball-tampering issue on the tour of South Africa earlier this year and a subsequent independent review into Cricket Australia that branded the organisation "arrogant" and "controlling".

    Yet Josh Hazlewood felt what happened between team-mate Paine and India's Kohli was "all in good spirits", particularly as the game was in the balance at the time.

    The paceman also made clear Australia's players understand there is a line that should not be crossed in terms of their behaviour on the field.

    "I think it was all good fun," Hazlewood said. "It's quite competitive out there as you know, and there's going to be words from time to time, but it was all in good spirits, I think.

    "I think at stages in a game it is going to get heated from time to time.

    "I think we are pretty confident that we can hold that line that we have talked about as a group. It's more in the heat of the moment, definitely not a ploy to attack any batsman at any stage. It has been really good so far. Just good banter.

    "I don't think we read too much into it. We go about our work as we see fit and the Indians can do what they like.

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    Set 287 for victory in Perth, the tourists never recovered from losing two wickets inside the opening four overs of their run chase, eventually reaching the close on 112-5.

    Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazlewood both claimed two wickets apiece for the hosts, and the latter is confident they can go on and complete the job.

    "There's a bit of work to be done - we've just got to stay disciplined and patient, hit the right areas and five wickets is what we need," paceman Hazlewood told the media.

    "It's been a bit of a long time between wins, but any time I'm playing in Australia, with the Australian cricket team, we feel pretty confident. 

    "Especially the bowlers feel very confident in getting 20 wickets and getting a result. As we saw last year [in the Ashes win over England], we got home four times out of five. 

    "So we're feeling pretty confident of putting that into practice more often than not this summer."

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