November 25, 2000

Alistair Campbell's Zimbabwe Diary

It has been a very hectic week since my last report with an eventful Test match and a visit to the Taj Mahal.

The Test did not turn out as per our expectations especially as we did so well to reach 422 in our first innings, thanks largely to a superb 183 not out by Andy Flower.

The much vaunted Indian batting attack lived up to its reputation and piled up 456 for 4 before surprisingly declaring. Rahul Dravid notched up 200 not out, only after yours truly dropped him on 47 - very costly indeed. Grant Flower never missed an opportunity to rub salt into the wound and reminded me at every milestone Dravid reached.

We did not bat well enough in the second innings on what was still a good batting wicket with the exception of again Andy Flower. They ended up needing 190 to win and although we achieved the early breakthroughs, their batting again proved too strong and they cruised home with seven wickets in hand.

With the Test over it was time for a fleeting visit to the Taj Mahal. I was very excited as I had heard so much about it but had never actually been there. We were scheduled to leave the following morning at 11.30am but the plane was delayed until 2pm. Not ideal. It would now be a very fleeting visit. Finally arrived at the Taj at about 4.30pm and it didn't disappoint.

It was an awesome sight. Such beauty. To give you a brief history - it was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal who died during the birth of her 14th child. It took 22 years of hard labour to build and 22,000 labourers. It was built as a monument to a beautiful woman and stands as a monument of eternal love. The serene beauty and pristine purity of this famed splendour will leave an abiding impression on my mind.

We were supposed to fly back at 7.30pm but couldn't - fog meant that our aircraft could not land in Agra so we had to catch a train to Delhi. We arrived at about 1.30am - had to pack and be up at 4.30am to catch the redeye to Nagpur. To say that we were a bit jaded would be an understatement.

The second Test is now underway and things don't look too promising - India are 306 for two. Some hard work ahead.