(Laughs). Not really. I am not a big fan of boxing, but I don't mind watching it. Once in a while I watch stories of some boxers - the amount of pain they go through, the kind of sacrifices they are prepared to make, the way they train.
If I'm a boxer, I want to see how much another player can punch me. Once he is done, that's when I want to start punching back. That is my game plan. You can punch me as long as you can. Then I'll show my punches. That is how I planned it.
The first one hit me just below my shoulder. There was one on the ribs. And one more from [Josh] Hazlewood below the shoulder again. That's when it started hurting a bit more because it was the same place.
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I had to come out of the nets. The skin came off near the nail and there was a lot of bleeding. When I got hit in Brisbane, the ball got the same part of the index finger as in Melbourne, it was more on the bone. During the Sydney Test, the laceration on the skin was bothering me even though the impact had been on the bone. By the fourth Test, the skin had healed, but there was still little bit of pain in the bone. And that is where I got hit again.
Yes, I was very confident that if we bat the entire day, we'll end up getting the target, without any doubt. There was a possibility of a draw, but I was very confident that on that particular pitch, if we play 97 overs, we will chase it down. I knew that if we didn't give away too many wickets in the first session, then the only team who can win from there would be India. The majority of overs will be bowled in that session, which was two-and-a-half-hours long, where you face more than 35 overs. So my game plan was very simple: I don't want to get out in the first session.
I told myself that if something happens after hitting the crack, I won't call it an error of judgement. If I start worrying about the crack, then I'll end up playing balls I should not be playing. So I told myself that I will just bat as if it's a normal pitch.
Not really. As a batsman, you want to get off the mark - the earlier the better. It's just to get that rhythm, to have some runs on the board. If you are batting on 5 or 10, mentally you know you are calm. You know you have started well and now just have to move on from there. If you take too many balls, you might feel, yeah, it's better if you get a single. But for someone like me, on day five, I won't worry about when I'm scoring my first run, because my game plan was not to give away my wicket. As a team, we didn't want to lose any wickets in the first session. I felt it was a very good pitch, apart from the variable bounce, and that too from one particular end. If you look at the balls that hit me, they were only from one end. I hardly remember getting hit from the other.
I think Cummins was looking to hit back of a length or maybe a little shorter. If the ball takes off from there, it's good, but if it doesn't, then he wants the batsman to play on the back foot. I just saw the ball coming at me and I had no other option but to take it on my body, because, on that pitch, it was risky to defend or to try to get on top of the ball. It could have hit my glove or it could have hit the bat and gone to short leg or gully. From the way [Steven] Smith got out in the first innings, I knew you can't defend on the back foot.
Ah, yes. Most of the times I try and look at the ball, but when it is following you, you tend to take your eyes off it. I knew it was a short-pitched delivery, but on that pitch, you don't know how good the bounce will be. Sometimes, from the same length, balls were going above my helmet. But this ball didn't bounce enough.
When you are looking on TV, you feel like I'm taking my eyes off the ball, but I'm actually seeing where he is trying to pitch it, what length it is - so I'm seeing the ball till it pitches. He was trying to bowl the inswinging bouncer repeatedly. After it pitches, I don't know whether it was because of the crack or the pitch, whatever it was, the ball was following me, and it was very difficult for me to keep my eye on it.
The first one was pitched back of a length. It was little fuller than the other balls and just took off and nipped back in. I was looking to play and suddenly it bounced a bit more and hit the box. That was the ball where I had to be a little careful because there was a leg slip. If you are looking to get on top of the ball, there is a chance of hitting the glove, so I didn't want to take my hands away from my body. If it's hitting my ribs, that's fine, because I'm not going to get caught at leg gully. I just made sure that I kept my hands close to my body.
I was happy I was still at the crease. I knew that they bowled their heart out and now it will be my time. I was charged up. I knew this is now my session and I will start giving some punches back. That is how we started after lunch.
Not at all.
I was expecting it to bounce a bit more, and usually Hazlewood gets that bounce. If you see a spell from the other end, when he was trying to bowl the same length, it was bouncing. My strategy was the same. I was very confident that as long as it is hitting my body, I'm fine. But this hit was more painful. I had to call the physio because I had already got hit there in the first session. I just needed a break to reduce the pain.
As soon as he [Patel] walked in, I told him it feels like the finger is broken. He told me, see, if you want you can take a painkiller, but you have handled this pain pretty well even in the last Test, so don't worry. You will still be able to bat because you have handled this pain. The only thing he wanted to check was if I wanted a painkiller or a strap.
It was on a fuller length but it hit a crack before it hit my finger. This was the only ball that climbed from a slightly fuller length and I had to play it. I couldn't control it at all.
I don't know what he said.
Yeah, I heard that. I just wanted to make sure I make that eye contact [with Hazlewood]. I mean, most of the time, bowlers know the batsman is not rattled. And I wasn't. I had got hit so many times before. This was maybe a little harder than the other balls, but getting hit on the body is not going to disturb me. That was the body language I wanted to communicate. I'm sure he saw that.
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo