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November 5, 2004
The pitch was obviously the focus of attention in the post-match press conference. Rahul Dravid labelled it a "tough wicket", but Ricky Ponting was far more scathing. Here's what both captains had to say:
On the pitch
Disappointing. It's fair to say that the wicket was nowhere near even being close to Test-match standard: that's pretty obvious given what we've seen over the last two days. 40 wickets falling in just over two days of a Test is pretty much unheard of. It's disappointing that the series has ended this way. It's been such a fantastic series, from the first ball bowled till the start of this match. It puts a bit of a sour taste in the mouth.
On whether the ICC will have an enquiry over the pitch
I'm not sure if there'll be an enquiry, but I know that lots of questions will be asked and lots of reports will be written. I guess the match referee will write a report about this wicket, and obviously that'll be sent to the ICC. Let's hope there is an enquiry, just because it's so disappointing. As a player you want to be tested under different conditions and in different countries, but that's just going a little bit too far. We have played in three venues other than this one in this Test series, and the conditions have been different in each one, which is the beauty of playing cricket in India. But in all the matches other than Nagpur the match was going into a fifth day, which is what you want. Unfortunately this one didn't even finish two.
On whether they relaxed a bit in this match
I think we've tried extremely hard in this game. We've come 14 runs short, but if you take a look at the faces of the guys during the presentation you could understand that this game meant a lot to us. Unfortunately we weren't good enough today. India played very well, particularly the way they batted. Sachin [Tendulkar] and [VVS] Laxman played very well, and I think there was a five-over period which cost 58 runs - looking back it's a pretty big number considering the margin of the game. Full credit to the way they played. Full credit to us as well - we fought till the last ball but we weren't good enough today. We were pretty confident that we'd chase 107 today. We knew if we put a couple of partnerships together we'd have a very good chance. But I don't think you can say anything against any batsman who had to bat out there today. Michael Clarke, a part-time spinner, took 6 for 9 on that surface. That would suggest that it's not a great wicket.
On his return from injury
It was a disappointing return for me. Having missed the first three Tests, I was looking forward to coming to Mumbai, playing a good long five-day Test, and hoping that I would personally score some runs and the team would perform in the same vein as they did throughout the series. That didn't work out at all. It was a disappointing way for the tour to end for us.
On losing Shane Warne
Losing Shane was a blow for us. It would have been very interesting to see him bowl on that wicket. Being such a big spinner of the ball, even on wickets that don't turn much, it would have been interesting to see what he would have done here. However, that would have meant one of the fast bowlers would have missed out, and the fast bowlers did a pretty good job for us here.
On VVS Laxman's return to form
I think it was very important for his career. He hadn't made a lot of runs in this series, and there were murmurs that he was going to be dropped. But they showed some faith in him and promoted him to No. 3, and I thought he played really well. He was a little scratchy early on, but every batsman was on that wicket. Once he got in he looked like the VVS of old, and I'm sure he'll make some runs in the series against South Africa.
On winning the Test
It was very satisfying. To go out and defend only 107 in the last innings against probably the best batting side in the world was a great effort.
On the pitch
It's probably one of the toughest wickets I've played a match on. It was interesting and it produced a great Test match. I'll admit it's not an ideal Test match, but it was a fantastic game of cricket, on what was definitely not an ideal Test wicket.
On what he told the team before they came out to defend 107
I just spoke about believing in ourselves. I knew that if we got a couple of wickets early we could put them under pressure. I couldn't be prouder of the guys - they showed some amazing fight and they just kept going. I couldn't have asked for more, right from the morning. Not only when we bowled, but also the kind of gumption we showed when we batted in the morning. You don't win many Test matches against any opposition, leave alone Australia, when you get bowled out on any wicket for around 100 in the first innings.
On his tactic of using Murali Kartik early in the innings
I just bowled him according the situation - the way the wicket was, the batsmen at the crease. We knew Kartik would be a handful on this wicket - if he hit the deck the ball was always going to spin. Watching Michael Clarke bowl and get the kind of spin he did when he hit the deck gave me a fair idea of what Kartik could achieve, especially when the ball was hard. Zaheer Khan did a great job getting an early wicket so that we could get the right-handers in early, and Kartik did the job for us when the right-handers came in. A quality bowler like Anil Kumble didn't get a bowl till the opposition had scored around 70, but I just played it according to what I saw at that point of time, and who I felt should be bowling to which batsman.
On the decision to promote VVS Laxman to No. 3
After I finished batting in the first innings and when we were fielding I decided that I'd send Laxman at No. 3 simply because when the ball is hard it's the best time to be batting. VVS is a positive player. He's been going through a tough time but he showed why we must always back quality. The partnership between him and [Sachin] Tendulkar in difficult conditions was a great exhibition of quality batsmanship.
On the gains and losses from the series
Zaheer Khan coming back was a great gain for us, Kartik bowled well. All the spinners have bowled really well, Virender Sehwag's been good with the bat, and we've shown a bit of fight right towards the end of the series. The loss, obviously, is the series. The Australians came well prepared: we must give them credit. They played some tough cricket and were deserving winners.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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