India would be disappointed they did not make it to the last four on home turf. I guess their elimination is a result of the nature of wickets we have been playing on. Atypical conditions have negated the home advantage enjoyed by India and other subcontinent teams, and in fact have suited teams like Australia and South Africa more.
It was great to take India on in front of a packed house at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) on Sunday. A contest with Sachin Tendulkar is something I always look forward to, and that was one of the reasons I opened the bowling in this game. Also, the bounce and carry we had seen during the Pakistan-South Africa game seemed suited my bowling. Sachin looked a little subdued, and he seemed further bogged down by the way Virender Sehwag was scoring freely at the other end.
At one point he even started stepping out against me, and told me that he was trying to put me off my line. It did not quite work out for him this time. I was really happy with my opening spell since I gave away only 12 runs, and also got the wicket I had targeted.
Seeing the pitch in the morning we knew it would be easier to bat on than the other tracks that had been used in Mohali. The grass was shaved and the wicket looked drier. It was a good batting wicket, one that would not deteriorate as the game progressed. India had their chances and could have put on a bigger total.
A score of around 275 was a possibility when Rahul Dravid and Sehwag were at the crease. Fortunately, Brett Lee came back to land two crucial blows on the Indian batting, and even though Mahendra Singh Dhoni did get them to 250 in the end, there were no major fireworks or big hitting, thanks to some really fine bowling.
When I returned to play for Australia after a fairly long break, my aim was to improve with every game, and I am pleased to see it happening. It was a difficult wicket to contain the free-hitting Indian batsmen, and I am proud of my effort in this virtual quarterfinal.
We are now just two games away from the trophy that has eluded us, and the good news is that we are improving. However, we know that New Zealand always play well when they come up against us, and they are in form too. They have an attacking lower order, and the team has been building their innings around Stephen Fleming in this tournament. I have enjoyed bowling to Stephen in the past, and we know he will be the crucial wicket in this game.
I can understand the Indian fans' disappointment with their team's ouster. However, I also know that the Indians really love their cricket, and hopefully we will see large, enthusiastic crowds for the three most important games of this tournament.