Australian debutant Matthew Kuhnemann says the decision by skipper Pat Cummins to give him the new ball helped him settle into Test cricket.
Speaking to ABC Sport after day two at the Arun Jaitely Stadium, Kuhnemann said he was getting used to momentum constantly shifting in his debut Test after his late call-up to the Australian squad.
Australia leads by 62 runs with nine wickets remaining entering day three, after dismissing India for 262 and then a late flurry from Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne.
“It’s a bit of a tug of war at the moment, that’s what Test cricket’s all about,” Kuhnemann said.
“It’s what Nathan Lyon said to me, he said you’ll never feel like you’re on top [in a Test] … over here, every session’s different.
“It’s been amazing to be part of this game so far, and tomorrow [day three], there’s going to be more happening … so it’s going to be awesome.
Kuhnemann was not in the initial group of four spinners selected for the tour, behind Nathan Lyon, Todd Murphy, Ashton Agar and Mitch Swepson.
However the 26-year-old was put on a flight to India ahead of the second Test, as a temporary replacement for Swepson who returned to Australia for the birth of his first child.
Kuhnemann was selected for the Test as one of three spinners, and was handed the ball to partner Cummins to open India’s first innings late on day one.
On day two he struck, dismissing former India skipper Virat Kohli for his first Test wicket.
Kuhnemann later dismissed Mohammed Shami to wrap up the Indian innings for 262, giving Australia a razor-thin one-run lead.
“It is amazing, that’s sort of the way my career has panned out so far with Queensland and Australia,” Kuhnemann said.
“I wouldn’t have asked for it any other way … to get Virat [Kohli, as a first Test wicket], that’s pretty much a dream come true. He’s a big fish in the team so it was awesome.”
Kuhnemann was asked about his calm demeanour at the start of the Indian innings, when he came on from the start and bowled a four-over spell conceding just six runs.
“I felt calm, I think Patty [Cummins] makes me feel like I’m welcome in this team, and for him to give me the new ball gave me a lot of faith.
“I love taking the new ball, whether it’s red or white.”
He said he had worked on his game over the last year in hopes of a possible spot on the India tour.
“I think every spinner in Australia sees when sub-continent tours are coming up, and have their eye on that,” he said.
“But no, I sort of went about my [game] in the Big Bash, and Queensland and I just love getting better at all aspects of the game.
“I think last year I’ve been working a lot with Marnus [Labuschagne] and Usman [Khawaja] in the nets at Queensland working on square seam [bowling, in case] it was an option for me to come.”
Head selection ‘bombshell’ put fear of failure into batsmen, says Watson
As the second Test advances in Delhi, former Australian all-rounder Shane Watson has spoken to ABC Sport about the tough start to the series for Australia, saying Travis Head’s shock non-selection may have had a ripple effect through the touring team.
Head was replaced by Matt Renshaw for the Test in Nagpur, which Australia lost by an innings and 132 runs. He was recalled for the second Test to open, as selectors switched things round again following the loss.
“Before the [first] Test even started, I saw that by dropping of Travis Head, that put the fear of failure into everyone’s mind,” he said.
“To think … one of our best batsmen over the last couple of summers has — because he hasn’t got a great record in the subcontinent and maybe had a couple of bad net sessions — [been] dropped.
“And as soon as that action happens, people start to look over their shoulders and start thinking internally – ‘gosh, if Travis Head can get dropped, then if I miss out in this Test match there’s a chance I’m going to go as well.
“So just by one decision it starts people thinking ‘don’t get out, don’t make a mistake.’”
Watson said going to India was challenging, no matter what the circumstances.
“But when you put into the mix a selection bombshell out of nowhere, then that’s the last thing you want knowing the team is going in with playing conditions that are so foreign.
“They are going to have to have no fear, they are going to have to take on the game, take on the bowlers and not worry about making a mistake.
“But as soon as one of the big players, who has been very successful for a while gets dropped, then that’s the last thing you need, for those ripples to go through a team.”