How much does being world No. 1 matter to you?
It matters. We are all really, really proud of what we've done. There's a sense of achievement, but each of us is aware that the real test starts now. It will be very difficult to stay at the top.
So where do you go from here?
Winning away in New Zealand after a long time was big. We've won consistently at home. But the real test begins when we go to South Africa next year. To be the best, we have to win series in Australia, South Africa and the West Indies.
When did the process of making India a winning team begin?
When Anil Kumble took over as captain and we went to Australia. More specifically, in Perth, where Gary (Kirsten) joined us, a game we won. For us, that was the changing point, beating Australia in Australia and that too in Perth. We started believing in ourselves as a winning team, one that could beat the best in the world, one that could be the best in the world. In our hearts and minds, we believed, that's what mattered.
That helped forge team spirit?
Yes, this team is very special in how genuinely happy we all are in each other's performances. We will all do anything for the each other and give anything for the team. It's never happened like this in the past.
And it's been a challenge ...
In earlier teams, even if the batsmen put on 500 runs, the bowlers wouldn't get the wickets. Now, we have bowlers who can get 20 wickets. We have a great support staff, Kirsten and Paddy Upton, Nitin Patel (physio), Ramesh Mane 'kaka' (masseur), Ramji (trainer) and Dhananjai (video analyst). They all contribute tremendously.
Will the lack of Tests over the next year affect the momentum?
No, not really. We play lots of ODIs and T20 games. We last played Tests in New Zealand over six months ago and yet, here, everybody performed. Rahul had a couple of hundreds, so did Gautam and Dhoni, I had a double, Zaheer played very well, the spinners too.
So you don't think there should be more Tests?
We all do; we would all love to play more Tests, everybody's missing Tests. Playing only four in a year isn't at all enough. There should be at least eight to 10 in a year.
If you could only play in one format, which would it be?
Test cricket, without a doubt. Anyone can play T20s and ODIs, they, especially Twenty20s, don't test anyone. Where's the challenge in that? And I absolutely love a challenge.
You were set to be the first man ever to get three Test triple tons. How important are records?
Not at all! If they were, I'd probably have converted far more of my scores into records. I love scoring but my thinking is straightforward. See, in this series, a few people got 100s, Mahela got 200 and I got 293. If you make a big score, people remember. I tell Gautam this: If you want people to respect you more, make those hundreds big ones. Make the doubles and the triples. Lots of people make 100s and anybody can get 50s.
Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
I really like to live in the present, one day at a time, so right now, it's all just about the upcoming T20 games and the one-dayers. But I would like to play for my country for five to six years more.