The match-fixing cloud was still hovering over Indian cricket when the team reached Nairobi. What did coach Anshuman Gaekwad and the players discuss on the eve of the event?
We all decided to concentrate only on cricket and nothing else. That was the first time I was leading India in the Champions Trophy and we had a young and very talented side. The whole team got its head down and played top-class cricket. We did not allow any kind of negative thinking to creep into the dressing room.
What can you recollect about India's second match against Australia in the 2000 edition and the innings Yuvraj Singh played?
Yuvraj's was a dream performance. He did exceptionally well with the bat and played a very mature knock, which showed his confidence. In fact, confidence is the key to success and it is applicable to anybody in any sphere of life.
You scored consecutive hundreds in the semis and final…
I enjoyed these knocks a lot. We were determined to win the Champions Trophy and I wanted to lead from the front. In fact, why single me out? I think the whole team played with a positive mindset. We bowled well, batted well but it was our fielding that ultimately pulled us through. The presence of youngsters made a lot of difference.
What did the team do to make young players like Zaheer and Yuvraj feel special?
Both Zaheer and Yuvraj were very talented cricketers and we wanted to boost their confidence, which in the end was pretty easy.
After tasting success in their first few games, they were really unstoppable. Their body language was very positive and they thought in the right direction. Really, they were two babies of the team. After Nairobi, they became stars.
What went wrong in the final?
Oh my God! I feel sorry every time I think about that final. I got out in the 41st over and after that, our intended onslaught in the last nine overs could not materialise. We should have scored more runs. Even today, I cannot believe that we lost the final.
The 2002 tournament was one of the few times that India actually lived up to the favourites' tag. What were the factors that contributed to your success?
The key was teamwork. Besides, we had tremendous confidence in our abilities. The young brigade was trying to give their best and most of us were in top form. We improved with every match.
India turned the semi-final against South Africa upside down. At what stage did you believe India could and would win the match?
It was a really close match. After Gibbs retired hurt - the Proteas were cruising at 192 for one at that stage - we started believing we could win.
The two unfinished finals, how frustrating were they?
We were left frustrated in two consecutive editions of the tournament. We came close to lifting the Trophy in Nairobi and played even better in Colombo. But who can win against nature? Ultimately, we failed in our bid to win the title.
Who will win the 2006 Champions Trophy?
I will be happy if India can win. We normally play well in the tournament. And since we are playing at home this time, we have a good chance.