Here is the full interview
Between Tennis and Cricket
Definitely a cricketer! Tennis was good fun. I enjoyed playing tennis, I enjoyed watching tennis but always was in love with cricket and cricket would always be my first love.
On the Golf ball significance
Talking about the golf ball significance in my life, in fact, it was in the early part of my life when I was only 11 years old and I was staying with my aunt and I would make her chuck number of balls a day. The Golf ball, I had purposely taken a blade and made that into oval shape so that it would hit the floor and then change direction.
It sort of you know taught me to play back foot defence with soft hands. Also not being so tall you know, throughout my career, I had to be on my toes and I thought somewhere that golf ball practice had a roll to playing my technique and basically I mean as a 11 years old full of energy and in spite of practicing number of hours in a field I still had to do something to do with cricket that's how I kill my time.
My interest in bowling was always there. In fact as a youngster, I think when I was only 12-13 years, I went to Chennai for Dennis Lilee's fast bowling MRF Camp, where he suggested that I stick to batting because not knowing that I was actually a batsmen wanting to learn how to bowl fast, because fast bowling is something which always fascinated me. (First copy to mother)
Sometimes being a school captain helped because with the new ball I could bowl seam-ups, then several new balls I would bowl off spin and old ball leg spin and by then the 2nd new ball would be again available. So, I continued bowling and that continued you know, even in the nets because when I played for India, for almost the first 20-22 years of my career. I bowled to all 10-12 batsmen in the net. (You can buy the book here)
I would bowl seam-ups if the wicket was helpful for fast bowlers, bowl leg spin, half spin and basically you know it's just playing more cricket and grasping more things in life and getting to know more about cricket; getting more information from various players.
The first time I met Anjali at my place when she had turned up as a journalist at my place because I didn't know how to invite it her otherwise. She said "I'm close to your house. Can I meet you?" Till then, no girl had visited my house and this was the first time.
I didn't know how to deal with that so I said that 'You have to walk-in as a journalist, wanting to interview me, otherwise you have no other chance of coming here'. I mean she pretended to be a journalist when she came to my house for the first time and I had to offer her something, so I offered her chocolate.
In fact, I only had one chocolate, which was the case because of me and my family, polishing off all the chocolates mainly brothers and only one chocolate was there so I had to cut that into small pieces and spread that all over the plate thinking that you know the many chocolates put together to have, so I precisely remember that you know that meeting was something special and then I think my family realised that she wasn't a journalist, the body language, says it all.
When daughter Sara was born
When Sara was born, I was at Anjali's house or which is like 50mts away from the hospital and I was with very dear friend of mine, my childhood friend Sunil Harse. We were on terrace of Anjali's house and said that I cannot believe that in hours from now I'll become a father and our life is going to change. So, you know, we both were sort of restless and looking forward to what was going to happen in my life. And as soon as I got a phone call I rushed to the hospital and I was there. That first glimpse of Sara, was special. I can never forget.
My first taste of Chinese food was when I was only 9-10 years old. All my friends had decided to go for a Chinese meal but the condition was each and every person brings Rs.10. Then we were going to put our money to the kitty and then order food accordingly. The meal was rather a short because you know before I realised the meal was done.
So I was sitting, all the younger guys were sitting at the far end of the table and older guys were like 19-20 year olds were sitting on the main side of the table where the waiter would put everything there in front of them. They would take large portion in their plates and then it would be passed on to us. I remember the first taste of Chinese food was sweet corn chicken soup and I had a couple of spoons and it was done, my share was done and I said, "that's it?" They said yes!
And whatever money that we had this is what you get and fried rice also hardly few grains of rice, here and there and the meal was done and I came back starving and said I want to eat and everybody said you went out for Chinese meal and we thought that it would be an enjoyable experience, what happened to that? I said, I'll tell you later because the older guys have said that don't tell anyone, just keep quiet.
On his captaincy
I thought the first phase was a difficult one and there were differences in our opinion and the selectors were thinking something different and I was thinking something different. I wasn't given the team I wanted; there were a few individuals that I wanted in the team and which did not happen and which was a big setback and a big disappointment because my only goal was to win matches for India, I did not want anything else.
I felt we were not on the same wavelength. We were thinking differently and if our captain has to go out in the middle and take his team and want them to play the way I want to play cricket then I get to have players which I want ,which did not happen that was the first thing of my captaincy.
The second one was also a challenging one. We went to some tough places. We went to Australia; we went to South Africa as well and things were not happening according to the way I wanted. All in all, I felt that we were not putting enough runs on the board. I don't think we scored 300 even once in three test matches in Australia. 6 innings if you don't score 300 even once, so you are not likely to win but you know loose that test. In fact even ending up in a draw, would be a great result because Australia being the top side in the world we would have been happy with that but that did not happen so more so because there were not enough runs on the board.
On his 25th Birthday and Sharjah knock
My 25th birthday was a memorable one in Sharjah because before that on 22nd of April we needed 'x' amount of runs to qualify for the finals even if we didn't win the game. We were still going to qualify if we scored 'x' amount of runs and there came sandstorm and the target was re-adjusted. It became a stiff total because I think if I'm not mistaken, 4 overs were deducted and only 7 runs or 8 runs were deducted from the total.
So that means asking run rate hiked up and while I was batting, I was always looking at winning the game for India, but when I got out, by then we had already qualified for the finals and which was a huge boost to be able to put up a good performance against Australia before the finals was important to carry that momentum to the finals against them. And because of that game they realised that India can come back strongly and beat us which is what we did in the finals and I thought the whole team played brilliantly.
And there was a new sense of belief in the dressing room that we could go out and win and which was coincidently was my 25th birthday. I didn't find decent rhythm to start with, but as the time went, I got into good rhythm and played decent innings which gave me a lot of satisfaction and above all we were able to lift the trophy, which is what we had gone to Sharjah for. So a great moment for all of us.
On Greg Chapell
Well, I think when John Wright was there with the team, the team was I felt, was in a terrific space and we had done well. Greg took over and the initial bit was alright but he sort of, as the time went by, I was injured in the first couple of tours and that's when the problem happened with very senior players in the team.
And a major problem then with Saurav who was actually instrumental in bringing Greg Chappell as a coach for the Indian Team and he targeted senior players because I mean somehow, he was of this opinion that senior player are no good whereas senior players had done brilliantly and senior players were 31-30 years old, I mean they were not too old to continue cricket team, but just that the thought process was not something that we wanted and there were differences in opinions.
There was not enough transparency and I have no doubt that out of 15 members odd, may be 2 or two and a half players might be with him and then the rest 13 players would agree with what I am saying and cricket was least enjoyable, I've never had that experience in my life and even if I was playing under my building, it was enjoyable and a lot of fun and there cricket was not enjoyable and because of only one reason.
On 2011 World Cup win
Those moments are special moments which will stay with me rest of my life.
2011 World Cup! It doesn't get anything bigger than that in cricket. The whole country was celebrating. Needless to say that the dressing room was flowing with champagne and photographs being taken with each other and every individual, that beautiful trophy and that's when I called Anjali, Anjali saw the match on television, because she is superstitious and then rushed to the stadium only to realise that on all the cars on top of the roof guys were jumping, dancing and celebrating our victory.
The moment they recognised her they said not this car, lets jump on to another one and Anjali walked into the dressing room and same car went and said now we can jump on to her car, she is not there. So, those dents were special ones, the dents which I am proud of. Fantastic experience and after that with all those happenings in the dressing room, we went back to the hotel.
Celebrating World Cup win
All the room doors were open with loud music and friends they are on the floor and in out room I remember, only the 2 of us were there, Anjali and I. The door was open and we found flowers. So we both put flowers in our ears and started celebrating with champagne glass and loud music and we danced, which I've never done in my life. That's the only time I've celebrated any victory that much and then the celebrations continued till morning hours. It was a fantastic experience and it will stay with me for the rest of my life.
His second innings
My vision was on my 40th birthday - we introduced "Spreading Happiness India Foundation" where we decided to light up the villages where there is no electricity and post sunset, and there is darkness in their life. To imagine something like that exist in our nation in 2014, is little difficult to digest and that's when we decided that this foundation is going to help, light up entire nation, you know it's all about spreading happiness and that's why we call this initiative, our foundation Spreading happiness In-diya Foundation.
India because, In-diya and diya is inside our house, In-dia. It's all about giving a fair platform to disadvantaged communities and if we can allow the future of India to study at night, to read books, the backbone of any family, the mother to cook food in proper light and not in darkness, it's surely going to change our nation. It's going to change slowly but surely and this is what we are looking at. So, I will continue to give in 100% and make all the possible efforts in lighting up the whole nation.
Along with this the second vertical, I'm focussing on in my second innings is supporting an NGO called Apnalaya. I've been associated with them for last 20 years now, but after my retirement I'm going to be involved even more and in raising funds for them. It's all about women empowerment, giving them fair opportunity, allowing them to realise their dreams. I think it's so important for every girl child to dream, that she can become somebody big in life and bring laurels to our nation.
From this book itself the minimum amount we've committed to them is 25 lakhs. But I will be happier to donate as much money as possible through this book and you know, give them a fair opportunity.
My second innings is more about satisfaction. The first one was more about excitement, pride and playing for the nation and wearing that beautiful India cap. The second innings is all about satisfaction giving to the people who have supported me, who have helped me for number of years, now.