Port of Spain: I had an extremely sleepless night on the eve of the fifth day's play. We were in a reasonable position going into the fifth day and I was very excited. I knew it was going to be difficult but backed ourselves to pull it through. Brian Lara and I had a bit of chat after the fourth day's play. We both were at the crease and being the senior most members of the side, it was for us to show the way. We were sitting in the dressing room and having a drink and discussing the last day's prospects. We were talking and saying if we could add 70 to 80 runs without the Indians getting an early wicket, we would more or less shut them out. Brian said it was important to last the first session and be still there together when the second new ball was taken.
But going out to bat with Brian on the final day, I found he was a bit tense. Even before we padded up, I noticed he was tense. I wanted him to take the initiative, wanted him to get a bit of pressure off him by getting to push the ball away, get the momentum going. I could sense by the first couple of overs he faced, Brian was not his usual self. He was very tight and tense. Obviously, he has wanted to do well in front of his home crowd. Besides, since we first came together, there has been a lot of talk about this series being a showdown between Lara and Tendulkar. After the Indian master's hundred in the first innings, he wanted one for himself.
What better way than to do it in the final innings of the match and win the Test for the team. But it didn't work out as planned. Brian got out and I followed thereafter. Having watched Brian struggle in his stay, I didn't want to get bogged down. Obviously, we were not going to get the 182 runs in one over. But I wanted to be in a positive frame of mind. It was one of the things I had learnt against South Africa at this venue last year. We needed 199 to win and we were guilty of being a little bit too negative. Then we thought if we bat through the day, the runs would come.
I didn't want to repeat that mistake against the Indians. If I had to wait for a bad ball, it wasn't going to come along against the bowlers of Harbhajan and Srinath's calibre. You need to make sure you capitalise on anything slightly off and keep the scoreboard ticking. So I thought it was very important to take the initiative and push the Indians on the backfoot. If they were pushed, runs would have come along a bit easier. But when I pulled and saw the ball lob to Das at mid-wicket, my heart came to my mouth. I thought the ball was short enough to get into a good position. I misjudged the length. It hurried on to me and the length was too full.
So the control wasn't there and it hit high up and took the splice of the bat. If I could have controlled the shot, it would have easily cleared Das. After Lara and I got out, the focus shifted to Shivnaraine Chanderpaul. But I was concentrating more on the tailenders and spoke to them during the drinks and tea interval. I am a bit disappointed with Chanderpaul because I thought he could have taken a few more chances. When you look back and see the number of balls Black, Sanford and Cuffy played, you have got to look at how Chanderpaul planned his innings at that stage. But he explained to me afterwards the opportunity to hit wasn't there. If he had managed it, we could have got a bit closer and then anything could have happened.
This was the first Test I played against Harbhajan Singh. He is different to other Indian bowlers. He is an interesting bowler but here the wicket was not of much help to him. I was also impressed with the way Nehra and Zaheer Khan supported Srinath. Nehra has a knack of breaking partnerships. They worked really, really hard in this Test. All credit to them. I was eager but I wasn't tense in the dressing room. I put God before everything. I believe whatever happens, was meant to be. You can't read too much into it. If we were supposed to win on Tuesday, obviously we would have won.
Most of us in this West Indian team are not superstitious. It is not like we are sitting at a place and holding on to a seat and thinking it is going to help our team in the middle. After the first Test in Guyana, I thought we had the measure of the Indians. Then, I was wondering if our bowlers could get the 20 wickets of Indians in this series. As for the Indians, though their attack looked good, I didn't think they could get us out twice in a match.
Here they did it and what is worse, we couldn't get 300 in either of the two innings. We are getting starts but not carrying on. It is a worry. We could have learnt from the way Tendulkar, Ganguly and Laxman batted in this match. It is very, very disappointing. But it only strengthens my resolve and we've got to pick ourselves and bounce back. Because I think we have it in us to beat this Indian side. Mark my words we would be back, before long.