Rahul Dravid and Ajit Agarkar beamed their faces off when they spoke to the press soon after India wrapped up the series against Sri Lanka 4-0. Tom Moody, as you would expect, was in a different frame of mind, though he managed the understatement of the year when he said, "It's not the ideal situation to be in," when asked about the scoreline and the results. Excerpts:
On sealing the series 4-0
I am really happy for the team and the whole squad, the management. We have been a great group over the last ten days, and we are winning a series at home after a long time. It feels real nice to sew up a series with three matches to go. The youngsters showed today what they can do. Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Suresh Raina's was a fantastic partnership, two young boys doing the job in a pressure situation. It showed that our batting future is quite bright. It is great for Indian cricket that we have so many options.
On whether he thought the series would have been wrapped up so early
I was confident that if we played good cricket, we could win. I knew we would have to play well and honestly, we have played really well. You can't take credit away from the Indian team, it isn't as if the Lankans have played badly.
On whether it was a gamble to play Suresh Raina late in the order
We thought since he hadn't played in a while, since Murali was bowling and since Irfan had played Murali in Nagpur, we would keep Suresh for later. But as he showed, we needn't have done that at all. He played a superb innings under great pressure, but yes, it was a bit of a gamble. It gives the team great confidence when, two games in a row, you successfully chase 250-plus against the side that is probably the second best team in the world. It also tells us that some of the things which we are doing are working.
On how this five-for compares with his 6 for 42 against Australia
I'd rate this higher than my career-best (6-42) against Australia in Melbourne last year, because this has come in a winning cause. It won us the match, and we won the series as well today. Nothing can be more satisfying.
On the pitch
It was a good wicket to bowl on in the morning, there was a little more assistance than you get in Indian tracks for one-day cricket. Even so, you had to get the ball in the right areas. I got two key wickets first-up, and that definitely helped.
On whether he had cemented his place in the one-day side
I would like to hope so. [Laughs] But I honestly don't look at it that way at all. The idea is to always give 100% when you are selected to play for the country. Today was my day, everything worked out well. The bottom line, however, is that we won the series 4-0.
On the series loss
It is not an ideal situation to be in, but India played very well. We have to accept that, and we will have to continue to make improvements like we have done over the last two games. I thought we were about 15-20 runs light after having recovered so well from being exposed to the conditions in the morning. We should have got 280-290, which would have made the game a lot more interesting. Also, a couple of our bowlers have struggled with the conditions here. India is a very tough country for fast bowlers, it is a graveyard for the quicks, and in a way, it is therefore a wonderful opportunity for some of the younger guys to be exposed to bowling in India. They will grow and improve as cricketers in time to come.
On dropping catches against batsmen like Virender Sehwag
Against a batsman like Sehwag, against India in India when they are on a run as they are now, you must take every opportunity that comes your way. If we had taken Sehwag the first time, it would have been 50 for three, and a different game altogether. I thought we let ourselves down with our catching.
On the mood in the team
We are very disappointed, no team likes to lose a match, let alone a series. We need to focus on the areas where we need to improve. The batting is falling into place, but we have to improve our bowling, and the fielding isn't sharp enough. Over the next three games, we will be playing not merely for pride but also to get something out of the experience of playing in India. We have made mistakes in all departments, and India have played exceptionally well. They have come out punching from the first game, and taken us on. They have played their shots, taken their chances and that has been their downfall at times, like Tendulkar's off-stump being uprooted today after an uncharacteristic shot. But they have done most things right, many of their gambles have paid off, and we must give them credit for that.