India in New Zealand 2008-09 March 4, 2009

Ouch, that hurt

Dan then decided that our goal was to not give Harbhajan four wickets for the innings

We got pumped yesterday, we weren’t good enough and we felt the full strength and abilities of the Indian team. (Read on...and right at the bottom, there's a chance to bid for a couple of auctioned shirts.)

Dan lost the toss (yeah, we were quite surprised too) and we were asked to bowl first; with rain forecast for later in the day it wasn’t the worst thing to be batting second knowing what you need when disruptions and recalculations happen. It just so happens that we let them score too many runs that when the recalculations happened, the task in front of us was a pretty steep mountain to climb.

We bowled well below par yesterday. The plans that we had kept to in the two Twenty20s worked; yesterday we didn’t stick to those plans enough and gave destructive batsmen deliveries in their areas, not ours. Our plans are right, we reviewed yesterday’s game and plans, extensively, this morning with the aid of the ‘Hawk Eye’ data that showed us that when we were in the right areas the scoring was limited and when we missed, we got pumped.

There are some positives that come from last night’s hiding though. We bowled poorly and India pumped up. How is that a positive? Well, had we bowled well and got thrashed then where would we have to go? It would have required a drastic rethink. And when we did get it right we did cut their scoring shots and reduce their scoring abilities.

I felt good last night, at times, and then at other times I just couldn’t get it to the right spots when I needed to. My first over was a maiden, it wasn’t quite right, but I’ll take that first up. My run up felt smooth and it was feeling easy at the crease. I didn’t have to try too hard to let it go, the rhythm was good...which annoys me even more as I didn’t bowl well enough consistently enough.

We came off for rain and were off for quite a while, reducing the overs back to 38 for each innings. Now we really needed to come out and bowl well. Not to be! We had got through 4.3 overs before the break. It’s always the way when you take your boots off the rain clears up, but you want to keep them on so that you’re ready to get back out there as soon as possible. This was the case last night. I had kept my boots on for quite a while and went and changed into my trainers while there was a heavy shower coming down. As soon as I came back out the rain stopped. I should have just kept my boots on and the rain might have stayed and saved us a thumping!

Soon after we came back out I bowled to Sachin, he dropped to about silly mid-on and I ran through to effect a run-out. This is where things get interesting. I clipped Sehwag’s leg on the way though and tripped him up - face first into the deck. I picked up the ball and threw it at the stumps not knowing he had ended up in a crumpled mess on the floor; I thought I had just clipped him and he had kept on running. If my throw had hit I know for certain that we would have not pursued the appeal. The next ball got smashed back over my head very hard indeed. At the end of the over I went to Sehwag and gave him a pat on the back, no hard feeling pal!

At drinks, while we were fielding, a message came out to us that the Sri Lankan team’s bus had been bombed and shot at. We heard that there were injuries, and some serious, but to who was unknown. It felt weird at that point, a little like it was in Australia when the bushfires were killing families there. We’re out here playing a game we love and so many people are hurting and it’s not their fault. I had to concentrate really hard on the game from this point on not letting too many thoughts about the Sri Lankans float around.

In August we had a training camp back in NZ which I had travelled to from the UK to attend. This camp was in preparation for the Champions Trophy that was to be held in Pakistan. During this camp a team from the ICC held an ‘it’ll be safe over there, you’ll get amazing security’ presentation. Even the then Pakistan coach Geoff Lawson came with the ICC group to assure us of the safety. After we had pounded the ICC group with questions and scenarios, we were given guarantees that ‘cricket’ would never be the target! How could you ever make guarantees like that? We were accused of pontificating, when in reality we were just stating our fears. Yes, from safe little ol’ NZ, but that’s just what they were.

Back to last night’s game, huh! We were set 278 after the score was adjusted because of the break in the innings. The opening Indian bowlers did what we didn’t do. They bowled great lines and lengths and in the evening air got the ball to swing. They tied down our openers until they both fell trying to break the shackles; on other grounds in NZ, Baz [Brendon McCullum] would have had a six but not here in Napier with its long straight boundaries. A couple of medium-sized partnerships followed with Gupy, Rossco and TS, and then it started to rain again. In the rush to get as many runs before the rains set in TS was run out by a good throw from the boundary and as the third umpire was making his decision the covers were brought back onto the field. This interruption left us needing 15s for the eight overs - a tough ask. It meant we needed, almost, to go from the first ball bowled. Either way there was going to be fireworks, runs or wickets. Unfortunately it was wickets. This meant I got my first bat in ODI cricket. I joined Dan and we decided on a simple plan “see the ball, hit the ball”; I, of course, tried but without too much success. I did get a message from a mate today saying I played every shot in the book. Yeah I might have, just didn’t quite come off!

Dan then decided that our goal was to not give Harbhajan four wickets for the innings. Er, sure thing mate, but maybe it's a little easier said than done! We both ended up not out but there were no celebrations, hugs and high fives as we ran through for the run because we were not anywhere near where the target.

Back in Wellington and I’ve just got back in from the worst meal I have ever paid for. It’s fair to say I won’t be going back there! I have a radio interview at 7.50am in the morning; there goes the big sleep-in. Training tomorrow afternoon and then off to meet the prime minister. Then, Friday, the second ODI from the Cake Tin, and here’s hoping for a slightly better-behaved crowd. Just don’t throw stuff guys, it doesn’t help anyone.

Auction I support the New Zealand Foundation of the Blind as a charity; I’ve got two auctions going from now that the Foundation will prosper from, so please bid and bid large. One is my signed shirt from this Twenty20 series and the other auction is Brendon McCullum’s Man of the Match medal from last week’s match winning knock. Brendon will sign the back of it before I send it and I will send a photo with it of McCullum signing it as proof of authenticity.

Fast bowler Iain O'Brien played 22 Tests for New Zealand in the second half of the 2000s

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