Swollen heads lead to bruised egos
Well-played, India! Sourav Ganguly and his boys deserve every bit of the accolades that are pouring in from all parts of the world. They played like a bunch of pros and fought like tigers. The credit for winning the Test as well as the one-day series should go to everyone — coach, physio, back-up team and Board officials, for, like Rome, this Indian team was not built in a day.
Indians, like the Pakistanis, have always been individually brilliant. But, now it is no longer the case. Lot of care and thought has gone into their rebuilding process.
For four years, Sourav has nurtured these talented boys, made them believe in themselves and taught them the value of team spirit. Today India is reaping the rewards.
The Indian team looks like a world-class side, at par with Australia. I have always believed that talent alone is not enough. It can win you a match or two. To be truly regarded as a top Test team, you need to perform consistently as a unit. If one Indian batsman failed, there was always someone else to do the job. And each of them did it admirably. Their bowlers did not go flat out to impress others. They stuck to their line and length and got the ball to swing.
On their 38-day tour of Pakistan, the Indians had only two or three bad days in office. So did we. The difference between the two teams was that while India performed at a higher level on the all other days, our levels dipped appreciably when the going became tough.
It is tough to accept defeat, especially when your team gives in without a fight. Two innings defeat in three Test matches tells the story. As a captain, I accept the majority of the blame. I am a seedha-sada banda. I do not believe in raving and ranting, but I refused to be taken for granted.
Captaincy is something I have never really aspired for. I have lost count of the number of captains I have played under. Some of them have even been younger than me, but I have never given them less than 100 per cent. I cannot say the same thing about a few players in my team. The problem arises when an individual starts thinking that he is bigger than the game. Such swollen heads often crash against the harsh reality of international cricket and all you are left with is a bruised ego. That, you may say, is a just punishment, but what about the team or the other 10 players you have let down?
It was tough series and very difficult for a captain. I did my bit with the bat and I don't think we were found wanting tactically at any stage. As a leader, I went out of my way to make life more comfortable for my mates. But all that was clearly not enough. The pain of losing to India at home will not go away in a hurry, but even in my private hell, I know that I will not have troubled sleep when I lie down because I have done my job well. The others, I am afraid, will have to cope with their own nightmares. Inzy bhai will not be there to shoulder all the blame.
(This is the last of the columns written by the Pak skipper)