What a game it was in Hyderabad! It went right down to the wire. Till the last over was bowled no one knew who would win. It took a lot out of us physically as well as mentally and I can feel the exhaustion even on Friday morning. The win, however, did help us to tide over most of the discomfort, for, there's no better feeling than the one that comes after winning a close game.
This series has had everything. India have done well, we have done well and the lead has gone from one side to another. Close matches, high-scoring matches and spectacular batting, good bowling…everything. I guess we can't ask for more!
What we would like to have less of is that man Sachin Tendulkar. Till he was at the crease, I was quite worried. He was phenomenal and while this must have been one of his many great innings, for me this was his best live knock that I have come across. People may be wondering if we spend a lot of time discussing Tendulkar in team meetings prior to a game. The fact is that we don't. That is left to the bowlers and the bowling coach to handle.
Normally, even before a series begins they sit down together and chart out plans for each opposition batsman and have Plans A, B and C ready. In this series, they may have had to come up with Plans D and C though, going by how our bowling personnel have changed with each match.
Of course, you can do all the planning you want but it always boils down to the execution. And while we knew that a lot of our regular bowlers were missing, we were also aware that all the guys available or had flown in as replacements were proud to be able to play for Australia. Such performances shows that they are all very keen to get a chance and that when they do will get the full support of the captain and coach. They also know now that if they do their best, they can come out on top regardless of the conditions.
When we set out to bat, we didn't exactly plan to cover up for any bowling weaknesses we may have had. That's not how we go about it. What we do is have our openers spend some time at the crease studying the pitch and conditions and relay the feedback to us. Communication is a key part of our plans and on Thursday, the message was that the pitch was a batting beauty and that the target would thus have to be big.
We now move on to a day game. It will be difficult to wake up that early but the thought that a win in Guwahati will give us the series will be a highly motivating factor. With all the traveling and the distances we are covering, as also the time we need to devote to recovery, we haven't really had time to party. I can assure everyone, should we win the series, we will let our hair down. Until then we'll concentrate on the job at hand.