| Virender Sehwag at practice in Colombo on Saturday. (Reuters)
Colombo, Sept. 28: Virender Sehwag has been in fine fettle in the ICC Champions Trophy, be it with the bat or ball. A strong contender for the Man of the Tournament award, his performance will have a big effect on deciding the course of the final Sunday. Veeru, as he is popularly known, spoke to The Telegraph on Saturday afternoon.
The following are excerpts
On his thoughts on the final
Sri Lanka played well to beat the Australians. They have been playing together for sometime now and are balanced. Moreover, they will be playing at home. They have some world class players in Sanath Jayasuriya, Aravinda de Silva and Muttiah Muralidharan. Iíve been in good nick and that should put me in good stead. I will always play my natural game and the opposition hardly matters.
On the secret of his success in Sri Lanka
There is no real secret. I batted well in England too but got out in the 40s. It was a matter of getting big scores, which I have managed to here.
On if the wickets here suit his style
The wickets here are good for batting. It has got bounce but not as much as in Australia. At the same time, it is not as slow as in India since the ball comes onto the bat. It suits a strokemaker like me.
On which of the two hundreds here he rates as his best
My maiden hundred against New Zealand last year. We had to win that game to reach the final of the tri-series and we were not playing too well then. It was a match-winning knock.
On if the Sachin Tendulkar influence always work at the back of his mind
Not really. But at the same time Sachin has been my hero. He has told me of the importance of self confidence, mental toughness and motivation. Iím lucky that I can play, talk and discuss cricket with Sachin.
On how important has been the mental aspect
Youíve got to be mentally tough. It helps you to decide your fate in crucial match situations. The mental toughness, that comes with playing international cricket, has helped me succeed.
On Team Indiaís recent success
Itís come about because of the huge support we receive from the captain, seniors and the coach. They back us even when we are not doing well. Personally, Iíve never felt so confident as Iím now. Earlier, the seniors never used to get so involved. There was not much support from them. We used to feel a little isolated. We are a set of guys of almost the same age, though, some may be senior. That helps us as all are ready to offer a helping hand.
On trainer Adrain le Rouxís role
The level of fitness in the team has improved. He goes about his task in a very professional manner. Weíve got to clear his fitness programme even if there is no match on a given day. He has also taught us the importance of relaxation. Earlier we used to be tense before an important game but he has changed things.
On if he plans to curb his natural instinct of playing shots
Now Iíve learnt to play shots depending on the situation without curbing my natural style. In fact, Iím still learning and gaining experience.