The Sportstar Interview
Conducted by Vijay Lokpally
How has been the journey from Lord's to Bourda?
It's been a very satisfying journey. It is my first year in
international cricket and I came basically with the intentions of
making a name for myself and establishing myself in the Indian team. 
I have sort of achieved that to a certain extent. Maybe a few things
could have gone differently, but all in all, it's been a very
satisfying and fun filled year of international cricket and I learnt a
lot during this period.

How much did playing for India 'A' help?
Not only A cricket but I played lot of first class cricket for
almost four years before getting into the Indian side. In retrospect
though I think it was a good thing because it toughened me mentally
and gave me a bit more understanding of the game. I learnt about the
game and about myself. I learnt how to handle the ups and downs, the
failures and successes so that when I came into international cricket
I was a lot more ready than what I would have been say a couple of
years before that.

What did you learn?
Cricket is a learning process. Experience in cricket relates a lot
to your life. You learn to take the good with the bad. You tend to
grow as a person. Become confident. That was something that happened
to me a couple of years ago and it helped me a lot when I came to
international cricket.

But what about the initial struggle in the one-day tournaments at
Sharjah and SIngapore?
It was a difficult period and a stage when I was really worried
whether I would be able to make it in international cricket. I was
concerned that I wouldn't get selected to go to England, but luckily
for me, people who mattered had confidence in me and selected me on
the tour to england which changed my career.

But it was said that you got to play just because of the fact that
GT Viswanath happened ot be the chairman of selectors and he was from
the same state?
Anyone who says that doesn't have respect for Mr. Viswanath and
obviously doesn't know him. I am sure a person of his caliber would
have never played favorites, It saddened me at that time when people
said that and it only made me more determined to prove myself and live
up to the confidence he had in me.

How much did having 5 or 6 state mates help when yo made your debut
and then continued in the side for the entire season?
It was really a big help having people whom you knew from a young
age playing with you. Anil and Sri were a great help to all of us as
they showed us the way. But having said that I was lucky to have been
made comfortable by all my mates when I made my debut. I know people
talk about it but the fact is that when we play together, it is for
the country and not the state. It is not 6 boys from Karnataka but six
Indians playing for India.

How have you accepted the failures?
It has reflected in my whole approach to the game When I came into
first class cricket I was too serious and I used to take things too
seriously. As if it was a matter of life and death every time I went
out there. And then I learnt to enjoy the game and used the
experience. Obviously everyone wants to do well and give his best. You
must accept that there will be times when things wouldn't go well for
you. It is important to realize that the real joy is in playing the
game and not worrying about the success and failure part of it.


What is your assessment of the last one year?
In international cricket, I was lucky that in one year I played in
conditions so different. In almost all the Test playing countries I
have experienced different people, different cultures, different
conditions and different kind of bowling. I sort of grew up to tackle
the challenges. I have been fortunate to have played so much cricket
in my first year. Success does not come so easily because you come up
against people who have more experience and more knowledge than
you. But you can only try and keep improving and maintain the
standards you have set to compete with such people.

Who influenced you?
Lot of factors. My parents have been a great source of
inspiration. It is ust the feeling of trying to do well for your
country. I chose cricket as a profession in my life and I would like
to compete with the best and to do that you have to be tough
mentally. The real job satisfaction comes from playing against the
best people in your profession and competing favorably with them.

Did you visualize this kind of scenario?
You don't visualize. I started off dreaming to be a regular member
in the team. It is nice it has happened. I still have a lot more to
prove and achieve before I could be considered as a good player. I
have a lot to do still, and I would like to think I have done a little
bit for myself and my country in the last one year.

How did you learn to adapt?
You have to adapt. I have always maintained that if you consider
yourself as one of the top six bats men in the country then you would
have to be prepared to bat at any position. I understand it is not
easy to find the right position for everyone in the team but you can
manage to adjust when you are young. And I have always accepted the
responsibility to bat anywhere. I like this as a challenge. If you
take pride in being among the top six bats men of the country then you
should be able to bat at any position. I have played at almost every
position in the top six. It is a nice feeling and I can take strength
from it for the future.
But having a stable position does help.... ?
Obviously, anyone would like to bat in one position because it
helps a lot. You can prepare better for it mentally. I am comfortable
in the middle order. Maybe opening can be difficult because it
requires different demands.

What about your number three position?
Number three is a crucial position. You never know when you would
be in. Sometimes you could be in second ball of a match. You learn to
play according got situations, attack or defend as the situation
demands. You have to lift your game. It is a responsible position and
I hope I will be able to do my best.

What are your plans in the off season?
I have been laying quite well. I know I can improve and learn form
every series. Hopefully during the off season I can talk to people and
tighten my game a bit. Maybe pay a few more shots. You got to keep
improving because bowlers would have studied my game and would try to
work me out. I have to be prepared and keep improving.

It appears you have begun to curb your shots?
It has happened over the years. Maybe at number three you have to
bat more cautiously. Not that I have tried to curb my shots. I have
been up against some quality bowling and not been able to play my
shots. I am a grafter and I know that is the way I can succeed
best. There are times when the situation may demand for me to play
more shots. Hopefully with time I shall be able to play more shots and
make runs at a pace quicker than I did in the last one year. In the
middle of my innings I should learn to pick the ones and twos better
which will ease the pressure a bit.

Do you agree you tend to go into your shell?
I tend to go into my shell but that doesn't mean I have lost my
shots. The pull is not easy to play on slow wickets. I don't hook
too. I do tend to get bogged down and I need to pick the singles
more. I think it will come with experience. Azhar and Sachin told me
not to worry about not getting runs quickly. They told me it will come
with time. The shots would improve and you would tend to adapt
better. You got to keep an open mind. I talk to senior players and my
coach (Keki Tarapore). I try to talk to them because they are so
experienced. It is nice to be able to talk to them and to gain from
their knowledge. They have been really helpful but in the end you got
to sort out these problems yourself. You are the best judge to see
what works for you. That's the way I look at it. I like to analyze and
think about an innings. What I could have done to improve. Talk to
teammates and know what they feel. I try to talk to the bowlers to get
their reading about me. I like to analyze the series and the
season. In the time off, I can work on what needs to be done.

Do you know Sachin Tendulkar has a high regard for you?
It is nice to know that the captain has high expectations from me
and has the confidence in my abilities. It sort of motivates you to do
your best. It has been a great experience playing with him this whole
year and I have learnt a lot from him.

How do you remain cool when batting?
I don't get angry quickly. I don't get excited quickly. My
temperament has been like this from an early age. I have tried the
trial and error method. If you get angry you can't perform to your
best. I don't think about what others do or say. As far as possible I
try and just concentrate on my batting and not worry about things
around me.

Who do you bank on for help?
My coach Mr. Tarapore from my young age and every time I go to him
for advice. I talk to fellow players and like to get their views. I
talk to a lot of people and get ideas.

You read a lot. How does it help?
Reading helps a lot really. I have always been a good reader. It
keeps your mind off the game, Reading is a less taxing way to keep
your mind off the game. I really enjoy reading, it gives me a lot of
pleasure.

Do you set goals?
Even if I set goals, I like to keep them to myself. I wanted to be
an important part of the Indian team, become a regular member and try
and contribute towards the success of the team abroad. Nothing pleases
me more than India winning. I work hard to improve the standards I
have achieved. I have tried to do the best according to the abilities
I have. My aims have to become higher since I have been playing for
one year now. I must try and become a match winner.

Which were your best moments?
When you grow up as a bats man you always want to score a Test
hundred. That's why I always cherish my first Test hundred. Also the
84 in the triangular final at Durban. I could do well in Tests and
also at the one-day level. These two knocks have been special to me.
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