The landing was not quite in sync with the surroundings thereafter. The shrill voice of the captain asking the cabin attendants to take their seats for landing was a wake-up call in that red-eyed flight from Melbourne to the far west of this huge country.
But from then on the flight did funny things, shaking vigorously and dropping like a giant-wheel. The chirpy small boy two seats away fell silent holding his father’s hands as most kept clinching the seat handles with both hands. About 100m from touchdown it dropped again and this time the eerie silence inside the craft was shattered by a few shrills.
Nobody clapped after landing, the captain was waiting at the exit apologising for the discomfort. It wasn’t his fault, everyone, including the players who arrived in a different flight discussed how rough the landing here was. But once inside the city, one of the top five in Australia, the serenity hits you. There’s no one on the streets for miles together. Shops close down by 7 in the evening, by 9 it appears the city has gone off to sleep. Once in a while the vroom of a bike or car breaks the silence.
Probably, it was here after the loss to England in the tri-series, that Mahendra Singh Dhoni must have had the time to sit down and reflect.
Two decisions were made. Mohit Sharma was named replacement for Ishant Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan got back among runs and so the opening pair was settled. “Well, we kept it very simple right from the start. We knew it would be slightly tough for us to turn it on, the reason being we’ll be here for more than four months,” Dhoni said after the 130-run win over South Africa.
“There were quite a few players who were injured so we kept the intensity a bit low during the tri-series. Still, we wanted to win. We pushed for the wins, but we are not able to get that.
“The World Cup was much more important to us and we had to make sure people with niggles recovered. We kept any player carrying a niggle out of the 11. You had to make sure the players who are playing for the last couple of years are there because that would ensure the squad would have players who all have played a minimum 40 to 50 games and have the right amount of experience,” he added.
“The 10-day break helped and we utilised the training sessions well. We asked for centre wickets for quite a few sessions and that helped. Then we ensured after intense training sessions the players had a full day’s rest. And a lot of credit needs to be given to the support staff because they kept the dressing room morale high, especially after the losses,” Dhoni said.