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India suits my style of batting: Hussey

Our Correspondent | October 10, 2008 19:05 IST

Michael Hussey made his international debut at 29. At that age most cricketers start thinking about their benefit games and post-retirement plans.

But he made an immediate impact, becoming the fastest batsman to reach the 1000-run milestone in Test cricket. The left-hander, with his ability to finish close games, also proved the perfect replacement for Michael Bevan [Images] in the Australian ODI team.

On Friday, he achieved another landmark when he scored a century in his first Test innings in India. The first Test between India and Australia [Images] was evenly poised at the end of Day 1 after the visitors posted 254 for 4 by close of play, but Hussey's brave knock of 146 gave them the edge as they ended up with 430 in their first innings.

The 33-year-old was the first to admit that conditions in India suit his patient style of batting.

"India is a great place to bat and it probably suits my style to be patient. I guess we played my style of play, the patient game of Test cricket. You get great rewards for your shots here because the outfields are so fast here. You just have to place the ball and you get great rewards," he said in Bangalore on Friday.

"It is always good to rank them; they are all pretty special, no matter where it is. It is particularly special to get a Test match hundred in India which is arguably the toughest place for an Australian. So getting a hundred and helping to put your team in a good position is very rewarding," the left-hander added.

Playing only his 26th Test, Hussey has already garnered nine centuries for an impressive average of exactly 70. He asserted that he wants to make most of every opportunity he gets to make up for his late entry into international cricket. Incidentally, the left-hander broke into the Australian team after a mammoth tally of 15,313 runs in 11 years of first class cricket for Western Australia, and that too because of an injury to Justin Langer.

"I think you need luck along the way. It took me a long time to get into the Australian team; so I just want to take every opportunity that I get and never take it for granted. Like all the guys in the dressing room, I wear the baggy green cap with a lot of pride and we never ever take it for granted. So every day is very, very important and very special," he admitted.

"Once we got back from the West Indies [Images] we had a little break, so it was the opportunity to have a good critical look at my technique again. There were a couple of little things that I wanted to improve on to help me move on my game. I think putting those things in practice has been working so far; hopefully, it will continue," he said.

Like his captain, Ricky Ponting [Images], Hussey also acknowledged assistant coach Greg Chappell's [Images] contribution in helping the team get acclimatized to conditions in India. Chappell served as India's coach for two years and his knowledge about the Indian team is proving useful, said Hussey.

"He has been a great resource since we have been here on a number of fronts, really. He was a fantastic player when he was playing, so we are trying to tap in to some of his knowledge. For the batsmen he has been an invaluable resource. Obviously, his experience here in India, knowing the Indian conditions, knowing the Indian players, has been a big help for our team as well."

Elaborating on his century, Hussey said, "[It was] More on the mental approach of the game, just keeping it simple and not trying to cloud my mind too much. Just going out there and playing my game, that has been his message," the left-hander said.

Hussey got to his century in a streaky manner, when he got a boundary off an inside edge trying to drive pacer Ishant Sharma through the off-side. But he celebrated in style, raising his bat in triumph and punching the air, before hugging his partner Brad Haddin.

 "I was relieved to start with. It was just pure excitement that was coming out. It was lot of hard work, I was pretty tired. It was just a bit of relief basically to get to the three figures," he said.

But he confessed that it was not at all smooth going as the Indian bowlers kept a disciplined line and length for most of the Australian innings.

"I think at different stages, it was very difficult. With the new ball any sort of cracks or indentations on the pitch -- that is when it might do the most; but having said that, at least the ball is coming on to the bat, so it is little bit easier to score. As the ball gets softer and starts reverse swinging it is a different challenge again. I thought most of the day and most of yesterday was very challenging and, obviously, very rewarding at the end of the day," he said.

He refuses to concede that Australia were very defensive in the match. The visitors scored at under three runs per over in their first innings for a tally of 430 in 149.5 overs, while the Indian openers have already raced to 68 in 18.1 overs at nearly four runs per over.

"It comes down to the individual players, the way they approach the game. We haven't got the attacking Adam Gilchrist [Images] or a Michael Slater at the top of the order, or something like that who will really dominate. We have got different sorts of players and each player plays to his strengths. I think that is important as well. They surely have different styles, but it can be effective as well," Hussey said.

The 33-year-old believes the pitch, which is already two days old now, is beginning to show signs of uneven bounce, which should benefit the Aussie bowlers.

"It would definitely be harder to bat as the Test match wears on. Already it is very dry, a lot of cracks in it and so it is inevitable that you could hit the top of the bounce or something like that. There is just enough variable bounce there to keep all the bowlers interested, particularly our fast bowlers."

Complete coverage: Australia in India 2008

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