I am sure most of us go through this. But with me, it has happened for the first time in my international career. October 14 is my birthday and I have a feel-good factor around this time. Yes, like all of you, I too am fond of gifts but the feel good is because winter is slowly trooping in.
The buzz of a new cricketing season, early morning dew, a pleasant chill, preparations for the ensuing festive season are a heady cocktail. Around this time, I have never had an indifferent performance on a cricket field.
In 2008, while playing a Test in Mohali against Australia, I got a 67 and 100. More importantly, my team won by over 300 runs. Then last year on October 14, India beat England in an ODI by more than 100 runs and I got a decent 32 off 33 balls. This was followed by another India win on October 17 in Delhi, where I got an unbeaten 84.
But this year has been an exception. We played on October 13, lost and I got a golden duck. Birthday or no birthday, it feels wretched to lose a T20 game by a margin of 52 runs and that too when we had things under control.
It will be harsh to blame Balaji for the loss. I think he is a class act. He had an off day, which in this format is not too far away for even the best of bowlers.
Our batsmen should have applied themselves a little more. I should have hung around and looked to play conventional cricket in these conditions. By that I mean seeing the new ball off and then going for calculated assault. We were always catching up when we were three down for four runs and Jacques Kallis had retired hurt. Thankfully, Kallis doesn't have a fracture and we will take a call on his participation against the Auckland Aces.
Swing & bounce
The Delhi bowlers bowled really well and credit should go to them. Irfan's swing and Morkel's steep bounce pegged us back. Both presented two extremely different challenges. I am really happy for Irfan and the fact that he has rediscovered his swing and rhythm.
For KKR, Sunil Narine once again showed why he is such a class act. He looked exceptional on a pitch that didn't assist spinners. Brett Lee too showed his class in a tight spell. These positives should keep us going but I am worried about finding a spot for Shakib al-Hasan. It is tough to keep a player of his stature out. I dearly want him and Narine to be bowling in tandem.
We have reached the beautiful Cape Town and it is continuing to be a quiet birthday. I cut a cake last night with the team and am hoping that my good time will return in the game against the Aces. By the way, we didn't pick up the wallet from Sandton Sun Mall. I liked some, wifey liked some as well but no consensus so far. It happens.
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The writer is the captain of KKR