How was this World Cup different from the others?
Here the tactics changed as the tournament progressed, for example, Australia's Glenn McGrath initially bowled with an older ball and then shifted to the new. Pakistan started with Razzaq coming in at No. 3, Afridi sat out some games, then as the wickets got better he came in later down the order. South Africa, of course, have kept changing their batting order. Every team in this Cup has played differently. There was no consistent game plan for every team.
Did we lose out in the bowling?
It's the entire team that wins or loses. Personally, I think Agarkar is one of our best, but was just going through a bad patch. Mohanty did fabulously well, and I must compliment the selectors for including him. Srinath was superb in his initial spells and beat the bat more times than not. And Prasad was simply the best of the lot, but he just didn't get the nicks.
What should be done to improve the side? A lot of people think there's a pattern as we're losing a lot of close games.
The most important thing is to be consistent as a team. We look good in patches but lack consistency. All eleven of us are different players and are going to play differently. That makes it important for us to understand each other. If I'm batting with Robin Singh, I know what he does best and where I come in-he would fancy a leg-spinner or a left-arm spinner more. If you are in trouble those are the things you keep in mind.
As regards India losing close matches, perhaps that's been true lately. None of us want to remember the Zimbabwe game. First we gave away too many runs and then were penalised four overs. That's basically 50 runs gifted to the opposition. But even then Mongia played the best I've seen him play, Srinath too played well, Robin fought all the way. We can't really put the game on Prasad and Srinath-it wasn't their job. I wish Kumble had been at the striker's end. He's one of the more sensible heads we have. But our tail hasn't got going in any game. Against New Zealand, for instance, I got out in the 47th over. We had four-five wickets in hand but our score increased by just three runs.
Has enough work been done on the tail-enders in the nets?
Look, if you work on my bowling it's not going to become world class, is it? Srinath, maybe, should be used more against the seamers, he can be of better use.
The loss against South Africa made an impact psychologically...
In that game two batsmen had played around 40 overs and then both got out. That was bad. Personally I thought even 250 was defendable. If you remember, 250 plus was rare in the earlier stages.
Sachin didn't have a good Cup...
Yes, but he's been through a bad phase. He just keeps rising in my esteem-losing his father and coming back like that, he has extraordinary commitment. He just got out to some good balls. He didn't play stupid shots. Against Pakistan he got a little ambitious, but don't forget he's Sachin Tendulkar, he's not going to wait around for a half-volley to score his runs. It's Rahul Dravid who has been sensational for us on this tour. He got us going, he helped all of us bat better-me, Azhar, even Sachin and Saurav.
Has any team really impressed you?
South Africa is impressive. But I don't see them winning the Cup. It's because they're too consistent. You need flair to be unpredictable, to play out of your skin. Steve Waugh played that great knock in the Super Six because he knew what the South African bowlers were going to try next. Against Pakistan you never know what to expect. Aravinda in Calcutta in the '96 semi-final took the game away from us after Sri Lanka were 16 for 3. The only time I've seen a South African play like that is when Jacques Kallis batted at Dhaka in the mini-World Cup.
What about Lance Klusener? He's a player with lots of flair.
Klusener is not a player like Kallis. Eventually, Klusener will be sorted out but not Kallis. If South Africa wins the Cup it'll do so because of players like Kallis and Cullinan.
As captain in Sharjah, what was your basic approach to the game?
I think you have to be consistent in your approach even as captain. Your basic instincts remain the same whatever you do. As captain, I think I would be more aggressive. That has been my strength in life, otherwise I wouldn't have come this far. I've seen so many players who were much better than me, but they didn't make it. I probably had more aggression than them. Of course, the only place where I don't want to be aggressive is on a golf course!
What about your own batting? People said that you couldn't play the moving ball, but you have silenced many by scoring the amount of runs you did.
I think Bobby Simpson played a major role in that. He works with players individually. I must thank Raj bhai (Raj Singh Dungarpur) for giving me some time. He spotted a wrong initial foot movement I was making, and on this tour it just changed my game. I must thank him for that.
Do you think the tournament format was fair?
Very fair. Eventually every team which beat us is there, except Pakistan and they beat everybody else. You could lose games in this format and still come back. It helps the consistent sides.