England v India, fourth day, Nottingham, 2007
Trent Bridge was a game changer in many ways. The whole tour was pretty important for me. Coming back in the team just a series before -- after a long layoff, about six-eight months away from the international circuit -- it was very important for me to get back to the highest level of cricket with decent strides.
I had played the series against South Africa before that, which was really good. And England, because I had played a season of county in 2006, [I] was pretty familiar with the conditions. So, there was a lot of expectation from me, and it was important that I take responsibility as far as bowling was concerned, and having that impact on the series.
We managed to draw the first Test [at Lord's], so the second Test [at Trent Bridge] was even more crucial. We won the toss [and] started to bowl. It was a delayed start, and there were overcast conditions. I knew that the conditions had got enough to offer, and I got four wickets in that spell, which was important to set the tone for the Test match. We got lucky later as well. The conditions favoured us: it was bright sunshine on days two and three of the Test. Our batters did a fantastic job and put up lot of runs on board.
If I recall, right from bowling right up with enough help off the wicket to bowling on a really flat track in the second innings was a big change. Fortunately for me, I was in good rhythm at that time and had a decent control over the length, [especially] in terms of altering it. English conditions also provide enough help through the air.
I remember we had over 250 runs lead, and then England had a partnership going [on day four]. Michael Vaughan was playing well, so that breakthrough was really crucial. It came at a time when we took the second ball, which gave us the breakthrough and we were right back in the game.
For me rhythm is very critical to do well. The effortless approach to the crease, and when you see that you hit the good length without really putting in effort, and you know that the ball is hitting the keeper's gloves hard. That was to me the sign whether I was in good rhythm. I look for these moments when I pick early wickets; if I pick a wicket in the first or second over of my spell, it gives me the cushion to go flat out.
I feel the wicket of Ian Bell in the second innings [was satisfying] as the wicket was pretty hard to bowl on in the second innings and he and Vaughan had a partnership going. He got out pretty early, so there was no need to set him up! It was just good rhythm, bowling round the wicket and getting it to straighten up. That was the perfect ball for someone who has just walked in; it's a difficult ball to deal with if you have faced less than 10 balls.
In a game situation, you keep talking to the guys at mid-on, mid-off. It's always good to converse with someone like Sachin [Tendulkar], who is always observing the game and seeing what a batter is doing and understanding his foot movement, looking at how he is looking to pick the ball. Going round the wicket to Michael Vaughan in that series was actually Sachin's idea: he understood what Vaughan was looking to do and how he was setting himself up, and how as left-arm bowlers you can create problems for him if you go round the wicket and get the ball [to move] away. That's what RP Singh was also doing well in that series, and one of the reasons we didn't let the English have a good start was that.
I never really thought so much ahead of the game. Just to give you an example of that: I think I had four wickets in the second innings and I needed a fifth one. [Paul] Collingwood, I think, was batting with someone else [a tailender]. And, Yuvi [Yuvraj Singh] was standing at mid-on, telling me, "Just give a single to Collingwood. You will have a go at the other batsman." It is just the mindset, and that's why I keep talking about rhythm. When you are in good rhythm you are actually kind of not thinking about what is happening at the other end. I said, "You know what, even he [Collingwood] can get out if I get the ball going away." And that's what happened -- I bowled a delivery to Paul Collingwood [that seamed away] and he got out at slip. That's a distinct memory -- Dinesh Karthik took the catch.
As told to Arun Venugopal