When it comes to the new ball, it was Glenn McGrath, while with the spinners it is Muttiah Muralitharan. McGrath was obviously due to his accuracy, whereas Murali is a very difficult opponent, especially on subcontinent pitches, where he gets a lot of turn. So you have to keep a close watch on the ball. I've hit him for quite a few sixes, but it is never easy.
I actually started as a spinner, but when I cracked the world record for the fastest ODI century, in October 1996, people started to expect more from me as a batsman. But my position in the batting order was never consistent and I couldn't cope with the constant shuffling up and down. So three years ago I decided I should focus on my bowling once again, and I have done well now. I rate myself as a bowler first and then a batsman.
In the subcontinent I prefer to open, and outside, be No. 6. That is because it is easy to hit the new ball early on, as it loses its shine just after a few overs in the subcontinent. That is not the case overseas, where it becomes difficult for my style of power hitting.
At that point I was frustrated. In fact, I was doing better in Tests than in ODIs, and still they did not play me. They said batting in both forms is completely different, so I said, 'What's the point in going on when they are not playing me, not thinking of me as a Test player.' I was fed up. However, some of my well-wishers inside and the outside the team asked me to rethink, so I decided to go back on my decision.
"I'm not sure about the best compliment from an Indian cricketer, but there was this instance when a frustrated Anil Kumble, after I had hit him for a few fours, said: 'You are not bothered about your respect or mine'"
I enjoy the games against India the most because there is a lot of pressure and lots of expectations. And if you perform, you become a hero instantly. My top three innings against India are, my all-round performance in the Bangalore Test of 2005, 109 in Canada in 1998, and the century in Kanpur in the must-win game in the ODI series in 2005.
Against Brett Lee, at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Without moving my feet, I hit him over mid-off. This was immediately after he had taken two quick wickets, so he was in good rhythm.
I have never changed my grip. I actually don't think about all such things.
As opening batsmen, it would be Sanath Jayasuriya, Virender Sehwag, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Chris Gayle (in no particular order).
Wasim bhai [Akram] and Inzi [Inzamam-ul-Haq] - both were captains, who were caring and understood how to motivate his players. A good captain is someone who will continue backing his player, especially when the player is going through a lean patch.
In Tests, 141 against India in a tough situation in the 1998-99 Chennai Test. In ODIs, against New Zealand in Sharjah in 2002, where Pakistan were once again in a spot and it was a good challenge to take them home.
Interviewed by Nagraj Gollapudi