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‘The West Indies wickets should give us an edge’
Willow Talk: Harbhajan Singh

Brian Lara

What was your experience of the 2003 World Cup like?

Harbhajan Singh: You need to play well to reach the World Cup final, and we did exactly that. That was clearly one of the biggest matches wherein I represented the country, if not the biggest. We will aim to repeat that achievement in 2007.

You did not start too well in 2003…

Harbhajan Singh: Yes, we were on the back foot after losing to Australia. But we couldn't believe the way people behaved back home. Our houses were stoned and our effigies burnt. We were criticised and abused. I pray that it shouldn't happen again. People should have faith in us. We always try our best to achieve the best for the team. But things can go wrong occasionally in sport. Anyway, that is the past, and I would like to focus on the future.

It took us some time to recover from the shock of losing the final…

Harbhajan Singh: Same here. We wanted it very badly. You do not play the World Cup final every Monday. Yes, it was a shock for all of us.

What went wrong?

Harbhajan Singh: Maybe we were too intense. The Australians played fantastic cricket. We could not check their run-riot. I suppose the match ended in the mid-innings break. The Australians were better than us on the given day. It took us several days to get over the shock.

Your mentality resembles that of the West Indians…

Harbhajan Singh: They are lively people, full of 'masti'. They live life to the fullest, always. They know how to enjoy themselves and I believe in doing the same. But we will not participate in these parties during the World Cup. Cricket will be the only thing on our minds. But I do like their attitude.

What about India's chances?

Harbhajan Singh: We have a very good side that is capable of doing well. We have to be positive, as you cannot achieve anything if you are not. We have been playing well and that should reflect in our performances.

Winning the last two one-day series would have boosted your confidence....

Harbhajan Singh: Definitely. You need results on the eve of a tournament like the World Cup. This will be my second World Cup, and I know how much pressure there will be when it starts. For me, cricket is a totally mental sport. You need to be in the right frame of mind to deliver your best performances. And I think we are in the right frame of mind at the moment.

Are you confident of putting up a good show?

Harbhajan Singh: I am, but, you cannot predict anything as far as the World Cup is concerned. The one-day game is all about firing on the given day. What you can be sure of is a hundred percent effort from every single player. The rest, we will leave to God.

You went to the West Indies just a year ago and won the Test series there.

Harbhajan Singh: We won the Test series but lost the one-day series. However, this is a new tournament and we expect the wickets to be similar to those in India. That should give us an edge.

Will the spinners play a major role in the 2007 World Cup?

Harbhajan Singh: The wickets on last year's tour of the Caribbean certainly suited the slower bowlers. Things may or may not be different this time. At the international level, you need to be able to adapt to the conditions as quickly as you can. If you can adapt well and manage to peak at the right time, then nothing and no one can stop you.

(An exclusive feature for Sify from PMG)

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