The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bigger than Ashes for Sourav

April 16 will remain a big day for Indian cricket ó a big day for Sourav as well, who took time off to speak to The Telegraph at the Marriott in Islamabad. Earlier, he interacted with the media in Rawalpindi.

The following are excerpts (from the one-to-one and the Q&A with the media).

On his first thoughts when he caught Danish Kaneria

Felt great.... I knew the moment had come....

On claiming both the ODIs and the Test series

Itís an achievement.... An India versus Pakistan clash is, to my mind, bigger than the Ashes.... The charm of winning in Pakistan is that much more special. Really, I couldnít be happier.

On whether he wishes to dedicate this success to anybody

The players.... Itís been their effort, their sweat....

On whether he intends making a special mention of one player

Look, in a team sport, XI contribute ó in fact, on this tour, everybody in the squad contributed at some point or the other.

On whether the commendable (1-1) performance in the recent Test series Down Under encouraged the sterling effort in Pakistan

Perhaps, but weíve been playing well overseas for the past couple of years. We needed to learn from mistakes.... Weíve done that.

On what made the difference this time

Excellent batting backed up by very fine bowling. For example, we didnít win the Test series in Australia, earlier this year, because we couldnít get 20 wickets in Sydney.... Here, in the decider, we did. Moreover, in the first innings, we bowled Pakistan out for 224.... (After a pause) Itís taken time to build this team, but the results are showing.

On the defining moment of this Test series

Difficult to pick one, but we certainly made a strong statement by declaring at 675 (for five) in our only innings at Multan.... In both forms, we played great cricket.

On whether he anticipated such a lopsided finish in the decider

To an extent, yes, when we totalled 600.... However, I expected Pakistan to fight in the second innings.... Iím not complaining, but they played soft cricket.

On the lessons learnt

That discipline, be it while batting or bowling, makes a huge difference.

On the Pakistan team

Itís a young side, so give it at least a year.... After a defeat, itís easy finding a thousand faults. But, as Iíve said, give the boys time. (In a break from tradition, the Pakistani journalists at the media interaction applauded the answer.)

On emerging the most successful Indian captain

Itís been a good journey... The past four years... Now, we should look at getting even better.... Today, thatís the challenge.

On coming up trumps despite the absence of Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan

(Interrupting) But Irfan Pathan and Lakshmipathy Balaji stood up to be counted.... Indeed, they were outstanding throughout the tour.

On introducing Sachin for what turned out to be the last over of the series

Thatís because they were going for their shots and I felt Sachinís spin would do the trick.... With conditions overcast, I wanted the series to get over quickly.

On whether it was difficult lifting morale after the crushing nine-wicket loss in the second Test

It wasnít because, essentially, we paid the penalty for one poor session of batting (first morning).... We needed to learn from that.

On whether he was hopeful of featuring in the Test series after injuring his back in the deciding ODI

Straight after the injury, no....

On whether the innings victory in Multan hastened his own recovery

Actually, yes.... Because I wanted to be back in a team which looked set to create bigger history.... Fortunately, the treatment by the doctors in Calcutta quickened my recovery.

On whether Pakistan is a safe mulk

It is.... We havenít had a single problem over security.

On the No. 1 centre in Pakistan

For the facilities, the Gaddafi in Lahore.... Otherwise, Islamabad. Weíve enjoyed ourselves, more so because of the quality of cricket we played.

On the immediate future

Oh, I just want to be home.... Spend time with the family, particularly Sana. Weíre having a break for three months (till the Asia Cup in July), time enough to recharge batteries for another tough season ó the Champions Trophy in England, followed by home series against Australia and South Africa.

Finally, on whether life could change once he returns to India (Saturday night)

(Grins) Why' Cricket doesnít change my life, so itís going to be the same.

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