Michael Clarke thanks bowlers for saving blushes

Melbourne: Australia captain Michael Clarke praised his bowlers for knocking over India`s potent batting lineup to win the first Test in Melbourne on Thursday and paid tribute to their ability to cobble together runs after the hosts` bats failed to fire.

Australia won the test by 122 runs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground without injured front-line bowlers Ryan Harris and Shane Watson, with Peter Siddle leading an attack consisting of 21-year-old James Pattinson and recalled swing bowler Ben Hilfenhaus.

The hosts now lead the four-Test series 1-0, with the second Test due to start in Sydney on Jan. 3.

Pattinson took six wickets and was named Man of the Match in just his third Test, his second such award after a brilliant debut against New Zealand, but the accolade could have gone to any one of the three.

Hilfenhaus, recalled after a year in the freezer following a poor Ashes series, finished with seven wickets, including a career-best innings haul of five in the first innings, while Siddle dismissed Sachin Tendulkar twice among his six wickets.

"They (executed) very well in this Test match," Clarke told reporters. "We deserve this win because of the amount of effort and time we`ve put into our preparation, but it means nothing come Sydney.”

"It`s certainly a time to enjoy the success of this first test match, but once tonight has gone it`s about reassessing, working out how we`re going to improve on this test match and come all guns ablazing in Sydney and try to win another Test match."


The unlikely trio also made telling contributions with the bat, with Pattinson compiling a decisive unbeaten 37 to push Australia to a lead of 292 on day four following an unbeaten 18 in the first innings.

Siddle`s 41 helped Australia set a reasonable first innings total of 333 while Hilfenhaus also made 33 for the match to upstage a number of team mates higher up the order.

"Well, the advantage we have at the moment is that is Sidds (Siddle) and Patto (Pattinson) are making runs, so they`re making up for a few of us like me," said Clarke, who made 31 and one for the match.

The 30-year-old captain was forced to defend his struggling specialist batsmen, who lost their wickets in bunches, often cheaply.

Australia`s batters have been under fire since scoring 47 against South Africa in Cape Town and collapsing to lose the second Test against New Zealand in Hobart.

"What this Test match shows me, if we can knock over such a strong batting lineup like India for the amount of runs we have for this Test match, there`s got to be something in the wicket as well, it can`t just be our batters," Clarke said.

"We copped a bit of criticism for being out for not many in the second innings but there are reasons for that, there`s reasons for Cape Town, there`s reasons for Hobart.”

"I`m really happy with our batters plans, we`ve been training as hard as any team I`ve been a part of, so we`re doing all the right things and having the confidence and freedom to continue to back ourselves and I`m confident we can keep scoring runs."

Bureau Report

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