Mumbai: I am very proud to be part of this Indian team today. We have achieved what we were aiming to do for the last 18 months. The feeling of being the best is great. There is also the satisfaction of having contributed to the team`s success in a small way.
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What stands out for me in this side, compared to the ones I have played in before, is togetherness. We back ourselves and each member is fiercely motivated.
I know the difficult job starts now. We have to live up to expectations and remain No 1. It is unfortunate that we will be playing only two more Tests till November next year. We know some other sides may play well in this period and may overtake us but we will have to give our best in every Test from now on. We can`t rest on our laurels. The real hard work starts now.
I have been asked how I compare my 293 with the No 1 ranking. The ranking is the biggest thing to have happened to the Indian team and my 293 is no match in comparison. Individual performances do not matter here. You may score 100, 200 or 293 and the team loses; that knock has no value. The rank is a team achievement, supported well by the coaching staff. Hopefully, we will keep playing good Test cricket from now on.
The key to achieving is all-round contribution. We can`t win Test matches by scoring triple hundreds. A lot of credit is due to the bowlers, particularly the pacers who have worked hard on not-so-helpful wickets and kept taking five-wicket hauls. And the spinners were always on the ball. We have also improved as a fielding side. We work hard at the nets and that is another important factor.
Having said that, if any individual or a group of individuals who deserve credit for this achievement, then it is Mahi (skipper MS Dhoni) and Gary (coach Gary Kirsten). I think Mahi is a tremendous captain and a leader. He has led the side brilliantly since he took charge. As for Gary, I can say he is not just one of the best but the best coach in the world. India is lucky to have him.
Then there is Gautam Gambhir. I missed him very badly in this Test. His contribution to the team`s success is immense. It is amazing the way he has been performing for the last two years. Scoring seven centuries in nine Tests is no mean achievement. He has been the pillar of the Indian team.
The success, however, has not come overnight. We have been planning this for the last few years. There have been discussions on this in the team meetings. We talk strategy on how to do certain things to achieve our goal.
Personally, I`m happy that I got 293. There are not many players who have this kind of scores. Yes, 300 would have been great but I`m equally proud of 293. The most satisfying thing was the team`s win, rather than my innings. Since that knock, I have been asked questions about similarities in my style of batting with Vivian Richards. It is a great honour to be compared with such a great player. I hope I will live up to the expectations.