'Dhoni is the 100 per cent man'
Heaping praises on India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the outgoing national team coach Gary Kirsten said that the skipper not only leads by example and puts in maximum effort on the field but also feels it the most when the team loses.
"Dhoni is a leader by example. I have never seen a player give as much effort to every game. He leads by example. He is the 100 per cent man. I've never seen him lose his temper. He loves taking responsibility and when the team loses, no one feels it more than him," said Kirsten.
"He is a great leader. He is the captain for next few years, no doubt," he added.
Image: MS Dhoni celebrates after winning the World Cup match
'Man-management is the most important'
Kirsten, who took up the coaching job with the Indian cricket with no prior experience, said he looked at creating an environment where the team was happy and for that he relied heavily on batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar.
"There is man-management which is the most important. You have to give options to the cricketer to cross the ropes and perform his best. It's about understanding individuals, working with what they have got and how they can improve without changing their technique," said Kirsten.
"I wanted to create an environment where the team was happy and felt like team. Sachin for me was the leader in this way," he added.
Image: Gary Kirsten and MS Dhoni
'Would love to see Tendulkar in 2015 WC'
The South African also said it would be great if Tendulkar could ontinue to play till 2015 World Cup but admitted that he was getting old and must now become selective in his approach.
"In 2015, he would be 42...I think that would be great. He doesn't want to retire because he is enjoying the game. I am proud of him. But he is getting old and he would have to pick and choose his games," said Kirsten.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar and Gary Kirsten
'Yuvi wanted to become the best fielder in WC'
Kirsten revealed that player-of-the-tournament Yuvraj Singh was a focused and fitter cricketer after making his comeback in the team and was determined to become the best fielder in the just-concluded World Cup.
"Around 7-8 months ago he lost his place in the Test squad. He made some personal decisions and spent a lot of time doing a one-on-one with (team's mental conditioning coach) Paddy Upton. I got a sense 6 months ago that he was moving into a new space as a person and a cricketer," Kirsten said.
"I could not believe how focused he was when he came back to the World Cup squad. He was prepared, fitter and worked a lot on his bowling. Most impressive was the fact that he wanted to be the best fielder in the World Cup," the South African said.
Image: Yuvraj Singh
Kirsten said Yuvraj's presence, along with young Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli, inside the 30-yard circle gave a sharp edge to India's fielding and helped the team lift the World Cup for the second time after 28 years.
"With him, Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli in the ring made a massive difference to the team. For Yuvi to end up as the man-of-the-tournament, I am extremely proud of him," he said.
Image: Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina
'Decision to carry Tendulkar pre-decided'
It may have appeared to be a spontaneous gesture, but Sachin Tendulkar being carried by his teammates on their shoulders after India's World Cup win was not so.
The decision to carry Tendulkar around the Wankhede stadium was taken much earlier but was not known to the batting maestro, Harbhajan Singh disclosed.
"We had decided to chair him around the stadium if India won the World Cup," said the off-spinner who is personally close to Tendulkar.
Harbhajan has vivid memories of the stand-out moments in Indian cricket's greatest triumph at home and Tendulkar's role in them.
Recalling the team's triumph against Pakistan in the semi-final at Mohali last week, he said that the players were drained after the high-pressure match but had a sense of triumph.
However, Tendulkar was asking his teammates in the dressing room to "cool down", reminding them "the next three days (to the final against Sri Lanka) are the most important days of our lives and so cool down and keep focus."
Image: Sachin Tendulkar on the shoulder of teammates after they won the World Cup
Plotting Umar Akmal's wicket
Harbhajan candidly admitted that for the first time in his career he was tense, almost scared, before the match against arch rivals Pakistan.
"Everyone from a doorman to a billionaire, was urging us on. The pressure had begun to get to me", he said.
But then, the offie went on to play a key role in Pakistan's defeat by getting rid of dangerous Umar Akmal and skipper Shaid Afridi.
He disclosed how Akmal's downfall was plotted. "I had seen videos of Akmal. He likes to go for his shots. If the ball hurries on to him, he sometimes finds himself in a tangle, either rushed for the shot or finishing as a lbw candidate.
"This ball was an angled delivery but went straight on. It got us a crucial wicket at a critical time, as was the case with Afridi," he said.
Image: Harbhajan Singh celebrates after picking Umar Akmal's wicket
'We were crying, shouting, laughing'
Recalling tense moments in the final against Sri Lanka last Saturday, Harbhajan said that he was padded up to come in at number 8.
"Sachin, who got out early, was sitting in a chair, clearly praying. And so was Viru (Sehwag) sitting next to him, hands clasped. Obviously, in prayer too".
"As Dhoni hit that six, we fell in each other's arms. We were crying, shouting, laughing. I have no idea what I did. Tears flowed freely.
"The unbearable pressure of six weeks was finally off our chest", Harbhajan said.
Image: Yuvraj Singh celebrates after winning the World Cup