Rahul Dravid was the highest run-getter in the last World Cup in England in 1999. In this World Cup, batting at number five he hasn't managed to get amongst the top run-getters but has consistently finished games for India. The Indian vice-captain spoke to Faisal Shariff on the eve of India's final Super Six encounter against New Zealand at the Centurion.
In the last World Cup you arrived as a one-day batsman. What differences do you see in the team over the two World Cups?
It has been a better journey in terms of where we have reached. We got lots of runs in 1999 but never felt we were in with a chance. We pulled it back but went into Super Six without any points. After a defeat against Australia we were never in it.
What was missing in the 1999 squad?
Can't say what was missing and I hate comparing teams. We have put up a more consistent performance in this one and the bowlers have come to the party.
You have been consistently finishing games for India. What kind of mental recalibration have you done to your batting?
I have had to change my approach a little bit. Now terms are paying more attention to the way I play. In the last game, I went in with a few balls left and had to go for everything. Some games you go in with three quick wickets down and need to rebuild the innings.
You have to play according to the situation and adapt quickly. It's different from when I used to go in at number three. There I could set the situation. Here the situation is dictated and takes a bit of adjustment.
Did the defeat against Australia sharpen your minds?
We did not do anything drastic, to be honest. The important thing was we believed in ourselves and there was no magical thing we did after the Australia game. We were not as bad as people made us out to be. We were disappointed by the huge defeat. But people overreacted.
The feeling in the team was, let us not overreact like every one else and just believe that if we play well we can go further in the tournament.
Do you think the backlash at home spurred you guys or got you more motivated?
I don't think reactions like that spur anyone on. If you play for India you don't need reactions like that. You realize there are always a few idiots. We also got a lot of support at that time from people.
In a billion people there are going to be a few nutcases who throw stones and do things they did. But there are millions who still support you, love the game and the players. You just accept it and move on.
Chris Cairns pointed out that Sachin Tendulkar has scored 75 per cent of the runs for India in this World Cup. Is that a worrying factor?
Not really. Tendulkar is batting up the order. It is true of a lot of teams whose top three have fired. Maybe someone should ask him percentage of runs Stephen Fleming has scored in the World Cup for New Zealand. That should be an interesting question.
When people bat at the top of the order and are in great form like Sachin they will score runs. But we have not struggled even after he has got out. We have found people to do well.Your magic moments against England, Pakistan and Sri Lanka
England: The wicket of Michael Vaughan by Ashish Nehra. He was caught behind driving and we got a big wicket. We knew we would win from there.
Pakistan: The second over of the Indian innings when Tendulkar scored 18 runs off Shoaib Akhtar.
Sri Lanka: Javagal Srinath getting Aravinda de Silva LBW. He was in the middle of a great spell and that was his third wicket. So he picked the man in form at a critical moment.
Where would you rank your innings against Pakistan that saw India finish the game?
Hard to rate but it was important. We had 100 runs to get when Sachin left. He had set such a good platform that we could consolidate. But looking at the situation and the Pakistani attack, Yuvraj and I knew that we could not lose wickets as they have the ability to clean up the tail.
Yuvraj has done well for the team
He has been fantastic and batted well under pressure. It is terrific for someone so young and in his second year of international cricket. His batting under pressure has been a revelation. He is a great sign for the future. He had a tough time after a sensational debut and expectations were high and people expected him to perform every time.
Nehra also has given a terrific performance. For someone who has had a stop start career due to injuries, he has come of age in this tournament, bowling at his best and fulfilling his early promise. He has taken some time to deliver but has come through well.