Itís always a clichť for players to say that personal awards mean nothing to them when the team has not done well.
Even before I started out at this level, I would often see players say this to interviewers.
However, the true meaning of that statement came home to me on Monday, when India lost shockingly owing to just one bad session of cricket.I was Man of the Series, but I could barely manage a smile, because we had Ďlostí the series.
The scoreline at the end of three Tests reads 1-1, but for a team as strong as ours, a drawn series is as bad as a lost one. I do not mean any disrespect to the Pakistan team, but they are an inexperienced side and were struggling with their bowling attack. We scored 400-plus in every innings of the series, only to keel over in the final session.
My disappointment is even more acute because it was not a bad pitch to play on if you were proactive and ready to go for your shots. This is why Anil Kumble looked confident at the crease right till the end.
I was disappointed at not batting till lunch on day four in the first innings, because I felt that it would have put our team in a really strong position. Even in the second innings, I felt very confident after we had negotiated the first 30 minutes of the fifth morning.
A batsmanís confidence is always boosted by a good score in his last innings, and I was feeling pretty invincible when I came out to bat in the second innings. I was planning to create history by leading India to an improbable win and my plan was to occupy the crease till tea because I knew that if I batted the first two sessions, we would be in a winning position. I actually recall feeling that the bowlers would not get me out and that the only way I would get out was either through a really bad shot or through a run out.
Eerily enough, the run out happened a few minutes later. I was really upset at that point because I knew that my dismissal meant that we would not win. I saw myself as the only batsman who could score at four-plus an over since the rest of our batsmen are more correct and conventional Test cricketers.
In my mind I felt that the rest would be able to draw the game but I was the only one capable of winning it. I thought that a draw was inevitable, which is why I have no explanation for our defeat.
Perhaps playing for a draw was not such a good idea since most of our batsmen are cast in the stroke-playing mould. Even at tea, the general mood was that we would scratch out a draw.
The possibility of defeat only dawned on us when Sachin Tendulkar got out. There were still 20 overs left and we knew that the remaining three wickets would not be able to play out so much time with umbrella fields in operation.
It was a truly disappointing game, and it is important that we all learn lessons from it but also shake off the despondency fast. Itís great that the squad disbanded immediately after the game because post mortems rarely serve any purpose.
We will reassemble tomorrow, and gear up for the fresh challenge of the one-dayers. Our captain is always very positive at the first team meeting before a one-day series and Iím sure he will not be different tomorrow.
I know that Sourav Ganguly is under a lot of pressure, particularly after the collapse at Bangalore. However, I have always found Sourav to be a positive captain, right from the time I made my debut under him. W
hatever his personal form, whatever the media writes about him, he has always been strong, focussed and aggressive at team meetings. Perhaps these are the qualities that make him Indiaís most successful captain ever, a fact that we must not forget even when we are disappointed.