>> Bowling the last over against SA in the 1993 Hero Cup
South Africa needed six runs to win in the last over. There was no plan for me to bowl that over but I said I am very confident of bowling it successfully. I conceded just three and we won.
>> 82 (off 49 balls) against NZ as opener in 1994
I was vice-captain then and our regular opener Navjot Singh Sidhu woke up with a stiff neck. I requested Azhar (Mohammed Azharuddin) and Ajit Wadekar (cricket manager) to ‘just give me one opportunity and I am very confident of playing some big shots. And if I fail, I’ll never ever come to you again’.
>> Titan Cup win over South Africa in 1996
South Africa were playing terrific cricket right through the tournament. We adopted a different strategy. As captain I chose to have five fielders on the on-side. I told Robin Singh not to bowl seam but cutters into the body and make them score everything on the on-side. Maybe that came as a surprise for them. This was one low-scoring game that I can never forget.
>> 1997 Sahara Cup win over Pakistan
We were without our top three bowlers for this tournament which I led India in. We were without Javagal Srinath, Venkatesh Prasad and Anil Kumble but we had Abey Kuruvilla, Harvinder Singh, Debasish Mohanty and Nilesh Kulkarni as newcomers. It was a fantastic effort and we beat Pakistan 4-1. Incredible!
>> 1998 Sandstorm hundred in Sharjah against Australia
Another memorable hundred against Australia in a series which was held after the Test series at home. The revised target and sandstorm made it challenging. It felt really good to follow up that hundred with another one in the final which was played on my 25th birthday.
>> Match-winning 98 vs Pak in 2003 World Cup
There was that six off Shoaib but there were other shots which I felt good about in that match. I was playing with a finger injury and the finger wouldn’t straighten. I avoided fielding practice through the tournament because I was experiencing a lot of pain while catching. I gave fielding practice though.
>> Tri-series triumph in Australia, 2008
Not only India, but all other sides found Australia too hard to beat. My hundred in the first final at Sydney was satisfying but the second match in Brisbane was tough.
We went to bed at 3 a.m. in Sydney after a day-night game. I just could not sleep and woke up at 8 am to catch a morning flight. I was trying every possible thing to be fresh for the next day’s match. The next day we won the toss and batted. It was quite humid so the conditions were tough. We knew that the first half hour was crucial.
I thought even if I don’t get runs quickly, it’s fine because if we don’t lose early wickets, the big stroke players can always capitalise on the start and that’s what happened.
>> 175 against Australia in Hyderabad, 2009
I know my body well and I know how much I can push so I was not surprised to score a 175 at the age of 36. Even if I had to complete those 20 runs by running them, I was absolutely fine. I was a few runs short of completing 17,000 ODI runs before the match but that wasn’t playing on my mind. However, every now and again it appeared on the scoreboard. That’s not important to me. The important thing was to go out and win.
>> Scoring ODI cricket’s first double hundred (vs SA, 2010)
I was striking the ball well, but I didn’t think of 200.
When hitting the ball, you don’t start thinking of a double century. All I did was continue with the bat swing and flow.
Even after scoring 100, I didn’t think of it. When I got close to 180 or so and there were eight to nine overs still to go, that’s when I realised I have a chance, and from the other end, Yusuf Pathan and MS Dhoni played some fabulous shots. I just looked to rotate the strike and hit boundaries in between.
>> Winning the 2011 World Cup
The moment the winning runs were scored, I jumped. Viru (Sehwag) who was next to me, jumped too. We were sitting in the dressing room and praying. Getting the trophy in our hands, and the popping of champagne (while talking about his most memorable moments of the celebrations). Also, when the team lifted me with the tricolour in my hand. That was the ultimate feeling.
>> 100th international century
This (100th international century) is history. Now, I can move on and not think about it. Ajit’s (brother) was the first call I got. Yes, it was special because he has been physically and mentally with me throughout. It’s like he has played with me all these years.
Like me, my family members are happy and relieved.
I went to my (hotel) room and the first thing I did was light agarbattis to God and thank him for this moment.
Interviews conducted by Clayton Murzello
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