You had a fantastic start in international cricket...
I never thought my international career would start this way. It is what I worked hard for. What you have been dreaming of and for which you always give 100 per cent. So, I got the start that I had worked for. I would call it a dream start.
How would you rate last season?
Being a new player, a beginner, I always strive to perform well and continue the same way. I got a good start against Pakistan in my first series and wanted to keep performing in the same manner as my future depended on it. Otherwise, people would have said that my first series was a fluke. I wanted to continue the way I began and I was lucky.
In a short time, you have created a big impact. Now there will be a lot of expectations from you. How will you deal with it?
If you do well, then teammates and people around you expect a lot from you. If you want to keep performing the way you have in the past, then you have to work hard. Keep working on the skills and in the areas you are strong.
Only then can you live up to the expectations. You love these things and you feel proud about them. You want to do well in every opportunity you are given as a lot of people expect you to. I am definitely enjoying the responsibility.
Which was your best series in the first year of your career?
I can’t really pick any one as the best. For me every match in which I have done well is the best. However, if had to choose, I would say the Champions Trophy, because it was a big tournament and it was to be played for the last time. It was special.
You are known as a swing bowler. Is there anything more you would like to add to your bowling?
I like to keep improving. Basically, I have learnt to bowl slower balls, yorkers, variations in line and length. I have worked hard to improve my skills. I would like to be more effective.
What did you do in the latest break? How did you utilise it?
It was a good break. A two-month long break is always good after playing so much. You have time to think and work hard on other aspects — like skills and fitness. I have been training hard and have also worked on my fitness. You can just come back and play when you are fit. I have also worked on my batting and fielding.
People talk a lot about lack of pace in your bowling. Is it a concern?
No. It is not a concern right now. At the pace I bowl, I think I am doing well. I am happy with the way I have been swinging the ball.
The pace will gradually increase with time.
Have you set yourself any goals this season?
Look, I have never set any goals. As a cricketer, I have to take it one match and a series at a time. If you are in the playing XI, then automatically you become a lead bowler and your goal is to bowl better and get wickets.
India has series lined up where seamers are expected to do well South Africa, New Zealand and England…
Before the South Africa and New Zealand series, there is the ODI series against Australia at home. I am concentrating and preparing for the these ODIs.
How excited are you about going to England next year?
I am not thinking about those tours as they are far away. Obviously, fast bowlers enjoy bowling on those conditions as they get a lot of help from the wickets. However, right now my focus is on ODI cricket.
You have been more successful in ODIs (see box). It is surprising since you have made an impression as a wicket-taking bowler. Do you think a swing bowler struggles on Indian conditions to get wickets?
It depends on how you look at it. Earlier, a lot of swing bowlers have taken wickets on Indian conditions. If your day is good, you will get wickets. If you are a strategic bowler and bowl with a good line and length, then you will get wickets.
Does MS Dhoni handle fast bowlers well?
He is someone who knows his players. He is smart enough to know their strengths and weaknesses. He knows that you can bowl well and take wickets for him. The biggest part is that he encourages everyone to give their best and motivates you by telling that you can do it. He makes the player feel responsible about whatever role the players has.
How important is fitness for fast bowlers? How do you plan to keep yourself from getting injured?
Fitness is most important part after talent. It should be of concern if you have skills but lack in fitness. The combination of skill and fitness is very important. I have worked hard on my fitness in the off-season, as it was monsoon.
How do you handle the pressure of expectations of being a lead bowler in the first season?
I don’t think much about expectations. I always look to do my best whenever I am on the ground. I didn’t think much about the pressures and expectations and always look to do well.