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Sachin, Sehwag class act

Hyderabad has not been a happy hunting ground for touring NZ cricket teams! I have played here once in 1999 and again on Saturday, writes Chris Cairns.

india Updated: Nov 17, 2003 01:19 IST

Hyderabad has not been a happy hunting ground for touring NZ cricket teams! I have played here twice. Once in 1999 and again on Saturday. In 1999, Tendulkar scored a masterful 180 and India amassed 370. On Saturday, Tendulkar repeated his ton and was joined in that bracket by Sehwag also, but this time India scored only 350!

Our preparation for this match had been good although practice facilities here were below standard. All week we had been talking about the need to put in an excellent last match to make sure this tour would be judged a great tour, not just a good tour.

By that I meant if we were to knock India out of the TVS Cup it would be by ensuring an unbeaten run against the hosts in their backyard. No mean feat. As it turned out, we faltered at the final hurdle.

There was disturbing news on the last day's practice as our captain Stephen Fleming revealed he would be unavailable because of a pelvic injury he has been carrying.

Fleming was just not able to run and felt he would be a liability. This decision meant that I was given the opportunity to take on the captaincy role.

I have had the pleasure of leading once before, against Australia at the SCG in 2002. That day we won and the challenge of leading against India in such an important game was very exciting.

Prior to the match there had also been a lot of media coverage regarding our trip to Pakistan. Some have asked if this is a contributing factor to our performance. Whilst I feel the guys have been weighed down recently by it, we are a professional side and wanted to focus entirely on this match against India.

As the coin went up, I knew this would be an important toss to win. When I called incorrectly and Ganguly chose to bat, we knew we would require something special on the field.

Sometimes when you play, there are events in the match which you can attribute to your downfall. There are other times when the match is taken from you by the individual brilliance of a player even if you keep trying hard.

We were beaten by two players - Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag.

Tendulkar's first 50 was scratchy, but his next 50 was masterful. If he had batted through the innings I would hate to think what he would have scored.

On the other hand, Sehwag played only as he can. If Sehwag scores runs it normally entails a fair amount of playing and missing. To Sehwag's credit, he plays the same way each time. Dravid also clicked and showed his hitting ability. He simply enjoyed every bit of it.

Chasing such a huge score required not only an enormous amount of skill but also luck in equal portion. It was not to be.

The mood in the dressing room was sombre after the match and the guys reflected on what it could have been. We came so close to achieving our goals but have to go home settling for what might have been. TCM

First Published: Nov 17, 2003 00:49 IST