Xavier Doherty faced a tough initiation into Test cricket on Indian soil, having to wait 42.2 overs for his first wicket in India, but said he had come prepared for a long grind because Indians are such wonderful players of the turning ball.
"We knew it was going to be hard. They're very good players of spin," said Doherty, the left-arm spinner, on Monday (March 4) after returning figures of 3 for 131 in 46.1 overs in India's first-innings total of 503. "(Shane Warne) Warnie came down and spoke to the spinning group post the first Test and he said he averaged 45 over here, Murali (Muttiah Muralitharan) averaged 47 or something like that - they were the numbers he threw out. Some of the best bowlers in the world do battle over here. We knew it was going to be tough but it's about grinding away. They weren't just going to walk off. You've got to keep going and really try to apply some pressure, move your field and just try little things, which is what we did. Maxi (Glenn Maxwell) got that breakthrough and after that it got a little bit easier."
Australia are 74 for 2 in their second knock, 192 short of avoiding an innings defeat after three days of the second Test, and Doherty conceded that his team had its work cut out. "Watching the two Indian batsmen (Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara) go about it - how disciplined they were yesterday and again this morning - that's how we've got to be. We've got some quality players at the crease and still to come and we know that if we can find a way that works and keep the good balls out ...," he trailed off. "Yesterday, they absorbed all the pressure we threw at them early and scored their runs later in the day. If we do that tomorrow, it is game on, but we know there is a lot of hard work to be done tomorrow and we are well aware of that."
Australia had rued the fact that they had only 50 runs to defend in the final innings of the Chennai Test, so Doherty was asked what number would be a comfortable one in this game. "If you are looking at batting all day tomorrow, you would look at being in front at least by the end of the day," replied Doherty. "I guess our number one aim is to still be there at stumps tomorrow. 150 would be an ideal target but from this point, it is just about being there tomorrow.
"We came in today knowing we were up against it and we needed to put in a better day than yesterday to eventually knock them over. Today, we took 9 for 190 or something like that (9 for 192), which was a pleasing effort. But the damage was done yesterday, so there's still a lot of work for us to do to get ourselves back into the game."
Doherty admitted that there had been times when he thought he would never get a wicket. "It was starting to look that way, particularly with that close leg before shout (against Pujara) which I thought was pretty good," he said. "Things just didn't seem to be going my way. I was trying to work out my Test bowling average there at one stage because I came into the game at a hundred (three wickets at 102.00 in two matches). In the last five or six overs, it was just more pleasing how the ball started to come out. It did take a while for it to take a bit of rhythm. To get a couple of wickets was nice as well."