Murali Kartik might not have played the seventh and final one-day international against Australia on Wednesday. He had hurt his right thumb on the match-eve at practice, the same finger that he had fractured twice before.
Luckily, it was not his bowling hand. Besides, Kartik never gives up. He did not want to let his team down on the field. He played, returning with a record six for 27 in 10 overs (the best spell by a left-arm spinner in one-day cricket). The 31-year-old completed a memorable day by putting on 52 runs for the ninth wicket with Zaheer Khan and guiding India to a two-wicket win.
On Thursday, with the man of the match award placed on the table in his hotel room next to a Saibaba portrait, Kartik engaged in a long, exclusive chat with Hindustan Times.
The Wankhede Stadium has been good to you, hasn't it? Not only on Wednesday but also in the past.
It is simple. As a bowler, you expect a bit of bounce on the pitch. And Wankhede is a proper cricketing pitch. Even on Wednesday, there was so much seam movement. You might say there was a lot of turn off the pitch. More than turn, you need bounce and Wankhede provides every bit of that.
There were doubts over you playing on Wednesday…
It was just that I got hit on the thumb, the same finger that I had broken twice. I could not sleep the night before the game. I had my thumb under the pillow, and I was waking up every now and then. For me it was crucial to not let the team down on the field, especially against Australia. It had nothing to do with the bowling. I was more concerned about my fielding. I had to assure myself that I was well protected with the taping. It was a question of me being sure if I could give 100 % on the field than anything else.
Once on the ground, did you sense that everything would fall in place?
No, never had any feeling like that. It was surprising, in fact. The way Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist were batting, I thought, 'Are we in for another 300-plus score?'. As it turned out, my first two overs were maidens and then a wicket. Suddenly my figures were two wickets for zero run and I thought I might as well stop now as it was my best bowling figures. It was then you felt that this was a day when you would have an influence on the game.
You were twice on a hat-trick and also dismissed Andrew Symonds for a first ball duck…
Symonds' was an ordinary delivery, frankly speaking. I was trying to do something and the only right thing I did was I had a fielder in the right place. Otherwise, the kind of form he is in, had he been well set, he would have slapped it for a four. It was his first ball and he tried to do the same. I was lucky. As I said, it was my day.