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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sachin was the architect, says Virender Sehwag

Virender Sehwag tells DNA the best thing about Gary Kirsten was that he never ever panicked

Is it a dream come true?
Yes. Not just for me but for the whole nation. The whole country was waiting for this and we did it for the people of India and Sachin Tendulkar.

How much of effort has gone into this World Cup victory?
We did everything that was necessary to win the World Cup. All of us worked hard on our fitness. We had thoroughly planned and strategised for every team in the World Cup. We raised the bar when it came to fielding. I’ve heard that our fielding was better than Australia’s in the quarterfinals, better than Pakistan’s in the semifinal and better than Sri Lanka’s in the final. Our fielding was a revelation.

How tough was it to stay fit through the World Cup?

Yes, the goal was the World Cup. That’s why I was taking breaks from ODI cricket. Those breaks helped me a lot. I worked hard on my fitness. I thank the BCCI, selectors, team management, captain and the coach for allowing me to take my time. The credit goes to the selectors. Gary (Kirsten) was always concerned about my fitness and he allowed me all the time to get ready for the World Cup.

Your fielding was a revelation too…
Revelation? I don’t think so. We’ve worked hard on my fielding. I’m not really surprised. Every run stopped means we have that many runs less to chase or more to defend. The hard work has paid off.

You were part of the 2003 and 2007 World Cup squads. How different was the preparation this time?
I think we were preparing very well. We knew what it takes to win the World Cup and our efforts were directed towards that goal. The long gaps between matches helped us immensely. We were concentrating on our fitness and fielding. We knew we had the batting and bowling talent. We really needed to improve our fielding and fitness levels and we did that during those long breaks.

Before the World Cup, every side had plans for you. Did you also plan on your batting?
Look at Tendulkar. He’s playing international cricket for the last 21 years and no amount of planning or video analysis has stopped him from scoring. The world knows everything about Tendulkar and yet, no one has been able to stop him. It’s about your mental toughness, patience and alacrity. You have to find different ways to score runs. Gary was there to advise us all. I saw bowlers bowling to me straight rather than outside the off-stump. Gary had actually helped me a lot. He would come out with counter-strategies.

You gave very good starts to the team. Which was the most challenging knock?
This was not about individual performances at all. We wanted to do it for the country, one another and, of course, Tendulkar. I would not care whether I scored or not or played or not. The team performances really mattered. I may have played a few good innings but at the end of the day, all I remember is that we won the final.

You looked unstoppable against Pakistan…
If I remember correctly, Sachin was the best player in that match. After I got out, he took over and guided India to a defendable total. Our bowlers did a fantastic job. It was not easy to defend 260 against Pakistan. The wicket was good to bat on. Yuvi (Yuvraj Singh), Zaheer (Khan), Munaf (Patel) and (Ashish) Nehra came up with timely blows.

Was there extra motivation against Pakistan?
Yeah. It is very natural, I think. We get charged up when we play against Pakistan. Our record (in the World Cup) against them stayed intact.

How much of a motivation was Sachin Tendulkar?
Look, he scored the maximum runs for India. He was the second-highest scorer in the World Cup. He was the key batsman for us. He was the architect of our win.

Gary Kirsten was a key factor…
We will miss him. He will miss us too. He will not get the same kind of commitment and dedication from any other team in the world. He will miss the bonding we had with him. He will miss us more. The best thing about his coaching was that he would never panic. Even in a tight situation, he would keep his cool. He was treating us equally. He would not shout at anyone. He would back, encourage everyone. He would allow everyone to play his natural game. Whether it was Sachin or Virat Kohli, everyone got equal treatment from him. He is a very good human being.

So what next after the World Cup?
We’ve reached the zenith of both Tests and ODIs. It is difficult to sustain but it is our challenge to stay there. We’ll go match by match, and series by series. Hopefully, we will also win the World Test Championship.

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