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December 20, 2005
Yuvraj Singh's fifty and Harbhajan Singh's supreme bowling spell in the morning session put India in the driving seat, while Lasith Malinga snared Virender Sehwag, India's stand-in captain, with the first ball of the Indian innings. Here's what they had to say to the press at the end of the third day's play at Ahmedabad.
On whether he had proved a point to the doubters
I don't worry about whether I have cemented my place in the side or not. It's about taking the team to a position from where we can win, and I am glad I was able to do that. The idea was to stay positive and not worry about wickets falling at the other end. You can't expect the openers to get you off to a start every time. If the openers fail, it is up to the middle order to stand up and deliver. I have been in good touch, had two good one-day series and I wanted to carry that form with me to the middle. You have to see the situation and play accordingly. I went out thinking positively, thinking of playing my natural game and playing my shots.
On whether he had played a better knock
I made a century in Lahore last year when the team was 120 for seven. The last Test in Delhi was also good, I had an important partnership with Sourav. Here, we were 200 runs ahead. I have not played too many Tests, so I can't compare and rate innings. But I am happy with whatever I have done so far. I am looking forward to doing better. I don't think so much about the past or the future, I just back myself to do well when I go out to bat.
On Yuvraj's innings
It was a very good knock from him, it was a much-needed one from the team's point of view. The way he handled Murali and the other spinners was brilliant. The innings has put us in a fantastic position from which we can now look to win the game.
On his bowling, which fetched him 7 for 62
I was very happy with all the wickets I took in this innings. It's not easy to take Test wickets, so every wicket is very satisfying. More than the wickets, I am happy with the way I am bowling, and I am looking forward to having a bowl in the second innings too. As far as I am concerned, every game is important. When I play for India, every game is important for me, for the team and for the country. I go out and try to do my best in each and every game.
On plans for the Lankan second innings
The plan is to bowl well and win the game (laugh). It was important for us to start well, but we lost wickets early in the first innings. It was tough without Rahul [Dravid] in the side too, but we did well to get to nearly 400. We then bowled well and took our catches, and we need to do that again in the second innings. Hopefully, we can get ten more wickets and finish this series off with another victory.
On the pitch
There is good, true bounce. It is not like the Kotla, where the ball stayed low. This is not two-paced, the ball is coming nicely on to the bat. If you are good enough a player, you can score runs and take wickets too.
On bowling on Indian pitches
There is bounce and seam for the pacemen in Sri Lanka. Tracks here are too dead, they help only the spinners and the batsmen. I think the Lankan tracks are much better for the fast bowlers.
On whether he could make the ODI side as well
I prefer to play in both versions of the game. But my record shows that I am more effective in Test matches. My problem when it comes to one-day cricket is that I don't have too much control. I will try in the coming year to bring the element of control needed to break into the one-day side too.
On his peculiar slingshot action
This is the way I have always bowled, from the time I started playing cricket at a young age. There is no strain on my body as such. There was also no pressure on me despite the fact that we didn't have either Chaminda Vaas or Dilhara Fernando in the line-up.
On whether he overdid the short stuff
I don't think so. I like to push the batsmen back with short deliveries, then bring them forward by pitching it up. I like to see the batsmen struggle.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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