Taking in McLeodganj
After beating Kolkata Knight Riders to make it two from two in Raipur, I headed back to Sydney for a few days to get married. It took 32 hours' travel to get there, but the day itself went perfectly. The weather was good for our outdoor ceremony and then the reception was a great night of celebration with our closest friends and family.
There wasn't much time to spare, as the day after the wedding I was back at the airport and on a flight to Jaipur for our clash with Rajasthan Royals two days later. My wife Zoe came with me and we'd have a week together as the first part of our honeymoon - we will be heading to New York and Mexico in June for the rest. The match against Royals was another disappointing result: we were 20 short with the bat and outclassed by three very good batsmen in Ajinkya Rahane, Rahul Dravid and Shane Watson. Personally, it was nice to get some runs and show what I can do.
It was back to Delhi for our last home game, against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Once again, we played well in patches, controlling the Royal Challengers batting line-up until the final four overs. In those overs Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers took 77 to post an imposing 183. In the chase, we had a lot of guys getting starts, but could not quite get over the line, losing another close one by four runs.
The day after the match was a rest day and Zoe and I took the opportunity to visit the Taj Mahal. Agra is 3-4 hours drive from Delhi, depending on what time of the day you go. I'm not usually one to do touristy things, but I'm glad I did this. Not only is the place itself beautiful, but to think of the planning as well as the many hours it would have taken to build this in the mid-17th century, it becomes even more impressive.
Our finish to the tournament brought a road trip to Chennai, Dharamsala and then finally Pune. Chennai was a shock to the system for me, for although it had been hot and dry in the north of India, Chennai was scorching and extremely humid. After our first day of training I looked like I'd just jumped out of the pool fully clothed, and used four shirts and three pairs of pants during the game. At least it was a good place to lose an extra couple of kilos. Again we were outdone by one of the best in the world, MS Dhoni making a quickfire 58 to leave us too much to chase.
What followed was the travel day everyone had been dreading. After getting home from the match the previous night at around 1am, there was a 5.15am departure for the airport to start the journey to Dharamsala. Plenty of grumpy faces conveyed the fact a lack of sleep and last place in the tournament are not a good mix. After a four-hour stop in Delhi and another flight, we finally made it to Dharamsala around 4:30pm. Any tiredness was forgotten as the size and beauty of the snow-capped mountains took everybody's focus.
The morning of the game, a few of us headed up the mountain to Mcleodganj for coffee. Mcleodganj is the headquarters of the Tibetan government in exile and the residence of the Dalai Lama. We were lucky enough to get a tour of the temple by one of the monks, Ven Bagdro, who also gave us a bit of a history around the Tibet-China situation, something that I must admit I've been pretty naïve about.
What a place to play cricket! Walking out of the dressing room to see the huge mountain range overlooking a wonderful facility, it was hard to start concentrating. We lost another close game, this time by 7 runs. The difference in the game for us came in the first six overs of each innings. They were 53 for 0 and we were 21 for 3 after the Powerplay, and it's very hard to win games from there. We fought back to make it close in the end, but just couldn't quite get over the line. Yet another opportunity missed.
Another long day of travel took us to Pune to prepare for our last match, a playoff for the wooden spoon in which we were to slip up one final time. It has been a chastening experience for a team full of proud characters. Personally, I'm looking forward to getting home and reflecting on what's been a huge six months for me, and then planning and preparing for next season, after a little holiday of course.
Ben Rohrer plays for New South Wales, Melbourne Renegades, and for Delhi Daredevils in the IPL