Well, it wasn't quite a scythe that we took to the Indian batters, more a small, not so sharp, butter knife; but we hung tough and were rewarded with two wickets just after lunch and then a couple late in the day.
It was always going to be a hard day, the pitch was flat the wind was going to be tough to deal with and our bodies are sore and tired; it was going to Test cricket, plan and simple.
We obviously wanted early wickets, and they just didn't come. I started up wind, where I have made a name for myself here in Wellington. My first couple of overs were ok, but not great, I couldn't quite find my areas and I have a feeling I was trying to hard. I finished up wind and soon had a go down the breeze. Now I was really trying to hard here to bowl fast and I didn't do my job very well here. I wanted to bowl quick, hit the deck hard and then see if I could get a 'wafty' drive for a nick to pick up a wicket. I was too straight and then to wide to Gambhir and didn't really get to bowl to Dravid. I really wanted to bowl to the right hander but just couldn't manipulate the over to get Dravid on strike.
Tough first session, I got into the changing room and lied down on the floor next to my gear bag, pulled my jersey over my head and wanted to go to sleep. I was really done at this stage. Energy was gone and I just wanted lie there, not move, just go to sleep. I couldn't though, Baz wouldn't leave me alone. Sometimes you do need others to get you up, to keep you going; normally I have more than enough of that spirit, but right then I was done, and those couple of words from Baz were enough to get me up and to the lunch room for a meal. After a meal, I headed back to my seat in the changing room; the coach came over and checked how I was. I told him I was, well, tired. He went off to see our trainer and our nutritionist to see what could be done. I had a 'squeezy', basically a high sugar gel shot, and a strong cup of coffee, in a pill form. It would take a bit to kick in but I was hopeful that I could get through the next session feeling ok.
Dan started up after lunch and we had success pretty much straight away. A really clever piece of keeping from Baz brought the downfall of 'the wall.' Dravid sweep one straight into Baz's guts as he shot down the leg side to cover the shot, and it stuck. Genius! Next in was Sachin, now this guy has looked so good the whole tour. From his One Day hundred and plenty in Christchurch, his 160 at Hamilton and his runs in the first innings, he just looked like he belonged at the batting crease. Dan got him to nick a slower one to Rossco at slip and we had a double breakthrough and had seen the back of two amazing cricketers. I bowled a six over spell down wind in this second session, I just though I'd try to get through it by being as 'dry' as possible, trying to give away as few runs as possible. Two maidens in my first three overs and then I, again, got straight to Gambhir, who was still in and looking solid. Not my best spell, but not my worst and I had found a nice little rhythm with the wind at my back.
At tea it was a protein bar and a couple of waters for me, I was feeling a bit stronger now and had got past that lethargic faze that went through in the morning session. I didn't bowl too late in the session, we took the new ball and I got first crack with it into the wind.
I really wanted to do my job up into the breeze and I had a new 'rock' to get to work with. Success, I got a touch straight to Gambhir, again, but this time, the new ball with a little more pace of the deck, got past his bat and into his pad. I went up and was absolutely certain that it was out, so much so that my appeal started with my back to the Umpire in a “that's just out” appeal that McGrath used to do. I had a wicket, Gambhir, who has played so well on this tour and we had a new batter out there to come hard at.
My next over and VVS was on strike. My only plan was to stay quite full and have him drive me through the off side, well try to drive me, anyway. I hit a real good length and, somehow, got the ball to deviate back off the seam into the top of off. That's a great feeling, going through the gate, on a good deck, to a great player who is in and seeing off stump rock back, a little. After the days play was over and I had done my hot colds, showered and was sitting in the shared eating room, VVS came in and we had a quick little chat about the delivery. He was amazed at how sharply it came back into him. I've seen it on the replay a couple of times and I don't know how I got it to do what it did. I'll take it, don't worry about that, the only thing to take from it is to make sure you hit the seam with a new ball on a flat one, you just never know.
I was feeling really good now, the rhythm was great and I felt like I was bowling as fast as I had done in the match. I had some kick of the pitch and it was fizzing through. No more wickets, but I'm pretty sure I left an impression on Dhoni, well on his arm anyway.
The light called play to an end with about 35 mins left in the day. We'll start 30 mins earlier tomorrow to make up for it. I have no doubt that India will keep batting and to be perfectly honest, that probably suits up. Chasing 500 will be nigh on impossible so the more time that India take out of the game by batting means there is less time for us to bat and hold out for a draw. So bat on boys, my body hurts enough as it is, another half day in the field won't do to much more to it, and you never know, I might pick up a couple more wickets.....