It goes without saying that I'm thrilled at winning the one-day series against a team like South Africa. However, the way we messed up the run chase after coming so close to the target, both in Baroda and in Nagpur, was a bit disappointing. In Baroda, we got away with it, but in Nagpur, after being 194 for 1 in the 26th over, we should have cruised home.
However, plenty of positives emerged from the Nagpur match - our batting continued to pile up the runs; the last few overs notwithstanding, we did reach within 10 runs of a mammoth total; and both Sachin and Rahul got back to form in time for Sharjah.
Rahul has been going through a rough patch since Australia and I feel his problem is that he tends to get overcautious. He is a top-class player and has the ability to score runs and play shots against any bowling attack, but he often gets defensive.
Both Kapil and I had spoken to him about his tendency, and he responded marvelously in Nagpur. He was striking the ball well, and his unfortunate run-out was the turning point of the game. I was also happy with the way debutant Sriram played under pressure. He looked confident and was ready to take his chances. Saba Karim too managed to carry his good form from the domestic circuit to the highest level. I am sure he will come good in the Sharjah games as well.
Obviously, our batting has been doing very well and all we have to do is to keep up the good work.
It is the bowling department that seems to be a cause for concern. Agreed, the pitches had nothing for the bowlers and every player will have a couple of bad days in the office. However, I still felt the bowling left a lot to be desired.
Though Joshi chipped in with a couple of crucial wickets in Baroda, I think he went for too many. As for Srinath, I hope he has got back to top form after the two games in this series, because we will need him at his best in Sharjah. The fielding too fell apart in the last couple of games.
When a team is playing on such flat tracks, it is important that the fielders back the bowlers. We gave away those extra runs in Nagpur because the top scorers for South Africa, Gibbs and Klusener, were both let off twice. On such wickets, chances are few and far between, and the team that makes the most of these chances is the one that triumphs.
As I said earlier, I am thrilled with the series win because it has given us confidence and has also helped us shed the tag of being poor chasers. However, we have a few tough matches against South Africa and Pakistan still left. Now that we have proved that we can win, we need to prove that we can win consistently. We have to be professional in our attitude and prove that we can perform at the highest level even when we play day in and day out.
I would like to extend my best wishes for Id and Holi to my readers. I hope everybody had a wonderful time. Personally, I am not very fond of playing Holi a s I hate getting messed up, and was quite glad to be quite far away from all the revelry.