Our match at the Brabourne Stadium turned out to be the closest one in the event so far, and since we came out second best, today’s game will be a do-or-die one for our team.
England too lost their first game, and they will also be approaching this game with a sense of desperation. Players from both sides know that a defeat will mean they’ll have to book an early flight home, so there will be an added edge to the contest. With the Ashes just a few weeks away, the result of this game will be seen as an indication of what is likely to follow.
Conditions did play a role in the India-England’s tie. However, the wicket played a lot better in the Sri Lanka-Pakistan game. I anticipate that the dew will be a problem, which means that the side winning the toss will bowl first.
An interesting factor could be the intermittent rain since Thursday night. Our morning practice on Friday was cancelled as a result.
If the rains continue, it certainly will be good news for the side bowling first. The pace attack of both sides is pretty strong, and though England’s recent results in one-dayers have not been too impressive, they do lift their performances a few notches when they play against us. So we know we have a fight on our hands.
The dew factor was significant in Sri Lanka’s loss to Pakistan. We too have to be ready to bowl with the wet ball, if required. The umpires have been changing the ball more frequently than before, but that is only a short-term solution. A couple of shots along the ground mean that the ball gets slippery once again. We practiced with wet balls on Friday, so we are now better equipped.
Our game in Mumbai proved what a talented side the West Indians are. They had good plans in place and their execution was better than ours.
There were two crucial turning points in the game — the first was when Ricky Ponting dropped Runako Morton. It was a catch that the skipper would have taken 99 out of 100 times, but it went down on Tuesday.
The other turning point was when Adam Gilchrist was run out against the run of play. It became difficult for the new batsmen to come in and that cost us the game.
Fortunately, the conditions did not play as big a role in our game as it did in South Africa’s defeat. It’s just that we made a few crucial errors while the West Indians played to an excellent gameplan.
The move that really worked for them was pushing Brian Lara down the order. He was able to negate the spinners, and he ensured that Morton stayed on at the other end. Both teams had significant fifth-wicket partnerships, but their bowling at the death was superior to ours.
I really felt fit and energetic out there on Thursday. I could have given 16 runs less, and felt I could have done a couple of things differently. There are a few areas of the game that we need to fine-tune and I am confident that our performance today will be a much-improved one.