Former Australia captain Michael Clarke admitted he fancied the hosts to win the fourth Test at the Gabba. At the same time, Clarke also wanted fast bowler Mohammed Siraj to reap rewards for all his perseverance, bereavement, sacrifice, and hard work by taking wickets.
Mohammed Siraj took five for 73 in Australia’s second innings which helped India win the Brisbane Test and seal the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2-1. In an interview on Sports Today, Michael Clarke spoke highly of Siraj and added that he deserved all the success for his lionhearted character.
“Look, I don’t think words can describe how much respect I have for him, to be able to go through that. I have been in a position where I was away playing cricket and my father got diagnosed with cancer but I decided not to go home," Michael Clarke said.
“That was tough enough. But his father passed away and for him to choose to stay and help his team win....to be honest, watching him bowl on that last day, you couldn’t not want him to take wickets. You wanted him to take a five-wicket haul for everything he had gone though and sacrificed," he added.
“I wanted Australia to win the game, of course. But I couldn’t be happier for a cricketer who put himself through what he has been through and show his loyalty to that Indian cricket team. He deserves all the credit in the world,” Michael Clarke, who led Australia to a 4-0 whitewash against India in 2011-12, elaborated.
Mohammed Siraj took 13 wickets across three Tests Down Under. But the achievement came after his father passed away on November 23 last year. The 26-year-old decided to stay back to fulfil his father’s dream of seeing him play Test cricket for the country.
“Maybe that fear of failure was there” – Michael Clarke on Australia’s defensive approach
Heading into the final Test with the series level at 1-1, both sides were expected to go for the kill. But Tim Paine was defensive in his approach, deploying fielders at the boundary even on the final day. Michael Clarke also echoed similar sentiments, attributing the gameplan to the Aussies’ fear of failure.
“Australia had to win the Test. I was really surprised with our approach from ball one. Maybe that fear of failure was there. Again on the last day, so many fielders were on the boundary. Nathan Lyon, getting the ball to turn, you have the mid-on back," said Michael Clarke.
“For someone like Rishabh Pant, let him hit a couple of sixes and hope he hits one straight in the air. But we continued to be defensive, which I think is a little different to what I think a lot of people expected. We had to win the Test match to regain the trophy,” Michael Clarke added.
India now have completed a rare milestone of beating Australia in their own backyard, in two consecutive series. But they would take more pride in the fighting spirit shown by their players, particularly Mohammed Siraj.