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'We have the talent to improve our 2003 performance'
Willow Talk : Yuvraj Singh

Yuvraj SinghHow was the experience of playing the World Cup in 2003?
Yuvraj: Everything went the way we wanted, except the final hurdle! Getting the chance to represent my country in the World Cup is something I cherish. And we reached the final in my very first World Cup! You cannot expect anything bigger than that. 
But why did you succumb in the final?
Yuvraj: They (the Aussies) had beaten us earlier in the tournament, but we thought we had learnt our lessons. But let us admit that they outplayed us. Ponting, Martyn and Gilchrist were unstoppable. They deserved to win. 
How long did it take for you to digest the defeat?

Yuvraj: At least a few days. It was hard to digest, you know. I was young and it was a rude shock. I was devastated, to be frank. Mom was there to console me. That helped. 
You have played in quite a few finals that India has lost. Can we conclude that the Indians tend to ‘choke’ in big games?
Yuvraj: I do not think so. Yes, we lost a few, but we won some as well. But there is no denying the fact that we have lost on more occasions. But we have always tried our best and put everything into those matches. Somehow, it did not click for us. 
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What is so special about Australia? 
Yuvraj: They have an excellent team. They gel well with each other and back each other. Theirs is an outstanding side backed by a professional support-staff. They have played many ‘big’ finals and know when to rise to the occasion. 
Why do you think they have slumped in recent times? 
Yuvraj: Some key players were injured, and the team had been playing continuously without a proper break. As far as I am concerned, they are still the favourites. Look at their performance in the last three World Cups. They reached the final in all three and won the last two. Fantastic!  
Which other sides do you rate highly for this edition of the World Cup?
Yuvraj: Each and every team that is participating will try to win. All the Test-playing nations will try their best. You cannot discount the newcomers either.  
What about India's chances?
Yuvraj: We have the talent to repeat our 2003 performance and go one step further. The boys are hungry and have worked hard on their game and fitness. The wickets might suit us. We should do well.
We lost the one-day series 1-4 in the Caribbean last year. Will that loss have a bearing on your World Cup prospects? 
Yuvraj: We lost that series, but we were not outplayed. The matches were close and could have easily gone our way. The fact that we toured the West Indies last year will only help us. We are aware of the conditions. They might be slightly different this time, but I don’t foresee a huge difference in the characteristics of the wickets. What I can tell you is that we are very, very confident.  
Which was your best World Cup innings?

Yuvraj: My favourite is the knock against Pakistan in Centurion Park. I was playing against them for the first time, and what an experience it was! It was thrilling to play against Wasim Akram, who is one of my idols. Sachin played an innings to remember. But we still had work to do when he departed. We were chasing 274. I was proud to contribute to the team’s cause with an unbeaten fifty.

(An exclusive feature for Sify from PMG)

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