Chennai: For an overseas player, it is never easy if you have to make your Test debut in the subcontinent. For Moises Henriques it was even harder.
Australia were staring down the barrel after Ravichandran Ashwin had reduced the visitors to 153 for five. The pitch was threatening to play all kinds of tricks. That was when Henriques walked in to partner his captain, Michael Clarke. And when he walked out, Australia were past the 300-mark.
His 132-ball 68 was priceless for Australia. If Clarke was Australia’s hero of the day, Henriques certainly played the second lead. That Clarke exhibited superb batting skills must have been an inspiration for him. Henriques, in fact, feels that Clarke’s mere presence in the middle had a calming influence on him during their 151-run partnership for the sixth wicket.
“The way Michael plays spin is different. He makes it easy down the wicket. I do not try and play as Michael does against spin. But playing with him helped me to be not nervous and I played calmly,” Henriques, who scored a crucial 68 on Friday, said.
The debutant revealed how tough it was to tackle the Indian spinners, especially Ravichandran Ashwin. “I think Ashwin gets motivated to spin all the balls when he gets more bounce. He does not bowl many bad balls either. He is a disciplined bowler. He changed his pace well and hits the same length all the time. It is very hard to score off him,” Henriques said.
“I certainly think I had the opportunity to make it my best innings, but it was a little bit disappointing...I really wanted to get through the day and make sure we finished five wickets down. I could have been a little bit more ruthless at the end. But if someone said you’re going to have 60-odd on debut, I’d take it,” he added.
Henriques revealed that he apprehensive about how the wicket would behave. “Generally, the wear and tear under the sun affects...But I do not think there was anything like that today… But the foot marks and the loose ground out there made it look like a three-day wicket...Obviously, the loose soil is going to play some tricks on the fourth and fifth days.
“The second day’s first hour is very important for us. At this stage, the game is very balanced. Michael is in amazing form and I hope he gets a double hundred,” he added.
Many would disagree, but Henriques said that the Indians did not bowl too many loose balls. “It was tough...It gets a bit easier after you face about 30 balls...That it did not become much easier was because they were disciplined in what they were trying to do,” he said.