If there could have been a perfect match, it was this. It was that way from the start. We won the toss, the openers got us off to a blitzy start and then Rahul and Gautam batted beautifully. The time when they fell — when India went from about 145-1 to 163-4 — was the only blip in our game really. But soon after that, Sachin and Sourav came together in that crucial stand, which laid the perfect platform for Dhoni to come in and tee off. Even if it was a beautiful wicket to bat on, he really went after the bowling and that domination really lifted us.
After that though, our fast bowlers continued from where they had left off in Bangalore. Zaheer got Hayden early and Ishant probably made Ponting wonder what happens when he faces the youngster. When you lose your two main batsmen very quickly, it's never easy. But the Australian first innings was also done in by Amit — he bowled beautifully and not just by the debutant yardstick. All the hard yards he's done as a domestic cricketer served him well here. It's incredibly tough work, the domestic circuit and Amit serves as a perfect example of what perseverance can do.
He showed no nerves at all and was absolutely in control from ball one. He used his variations very nicely: The way he came around and bowled a wrong 'un at Clarke showed that he's a thinking cricketer. With an eye to the future, it also augurs well for India that we've found someone like Amit. An orthodox bowler, he spins the ball a lot, uses his flight very nicely and frankly, it was great watching him. I can tell you that this would have given him a lot of confidence. The first five-for I got told me that if I could get one, I could get more. Confidence is critical. As Amit's fifer has come in his first game itself against Australia, it's even better for him.
Let's also not forget that we had two other crucial contributions. Harbhajan bowled beautifully and though that classical off-break that had Haddin in the first innings was my highlight, his three quick wickets in the second, in the space of 10 balls, broke Australia’s resolve. And early Tuesday morning, when Zaheer took four balls to scalp three wickets, he finished the job masterfully.
While I always thought our batters coming good was a matter of time, to bowl like this consistently is heartwarming. That's the wonderful nature of this Test, it was such a team effort. Our bowlers were able to swing the ball, theirs struggled to. Our batters hung in there, theirs folded. They had their fourth opening failure in as many innings, while Viru and Gautam lifted our spirits with their demolition act of Australia's attack in our second essay.
While Viru is always fun to watch, I'm especially happy that Gautam got this 100. He used to get a bit jittery and get out in the 60s and 70s and he's shown he can overcome that. When he and Viru and Ishant go into their homeground in the Delhi Test a week from now, they'll be going in all guns blazing.
It was very heartening to see MS lead from the front and it was fantastic to watch the way the team approached the game and the intensity we kept up throughout. And while I unfortunately had to sit this one out, I'm raring to get going at the Kotla, my favourite Test centre.