Hobart, Australia: Phil Hughes unfurled a couple of new shots in his comeback Test knock of 86 against Sri Lanka in Friday's Hobart series opener in his efforts towards remaining in the Australian team.
Hughes, batting at number three rather than his usual opening spot, narrowly missed out on a restorative century in his Test recall to offer early evidence that he has overcome the technical shortcomings that led to his sacking 12 months ago.
The compact left-hander showed more patience and greater shot selection at his latest and third Test recall in the wake of Ricky Ponting's retirement, batting for 221 minutes and hitting eight fours and an unorthodox slog-sweep six.
Hughes returned to Hobart's Bellerive Oval where he played his last Test in December 2011 and scored just 24 runs in two innings against New Zealand.
In his first Test innings back Hughes was bowled by Chanaka Welegedara in the 59th over with a delivery that speared through a gap between bat and pad and crashed into his off-stump.
But in his time at bat the 24-year-old showed enough improvement in his technique to raise hopes that he may yet become a Test regular for Australia.
"It was nice to get a few, it would have been nice to get three-figures and a few more, but that's cricket. To get 80-odd was good for my confidence," Hughes said.
Hughes has been working on the leg-side facet of his game that was missing from his strokeplay in his earlier 17 Test appearances.
He hooked speedster Shaminda Eranga for four and hit a prodigious six over deep mid-wicket to unveil new shots in his scoring repertoire.
"It was something that I probably didn't do 12 months ago, so I knew I had to bring it into my game as well. It keeps the bowlers honest as well, but there was one or two shots there," he said.
"I had to work on my leg-side play and I've done it and I feel like it's in decent order at the moment."
Hughes, who moved to South Australia from New South Wales as part of his cricket makeover, said his aim was to stay in the Australian Test team.
"It was a different position for me playing for Australia. I've always opened but I really enjoyed batting at three," he said.
"Getting runs behind me was nice. Now going forward I would really love to cement my place in the team.
"I've worked on my game. I knew I had to work on my technique," he said.
"I was a lot more patient through my innings than I have been 12 months to two years ago, mentally knowing I've been here before is probably a good thing as well, but my technique, no doubt, feels a lot more comfortable."
Story first published on: Friday, 14 December 2012 18:27 IST