Congratulations on your IPL-CLT20 double. It’s a great achievement...
Yes, it is a great achievement. It’s never easy to win both titles, but we always had the belief and we knew we had the team to win it. The IPL is still difficult with so many teams playing and so many matches being played. And the CLT20 sees some of world’s best teams come together.
Our win against Perth Scorchers was crucial. We won it, and how We chased a stiff total of 150 in 13-odd overs. In fact, it was a message to the other teams that we were coming (to get them).
You have done very well for the Mumbai Indians (30 wickets in 24 matches this season). And your match-winning 4/32 in Sunday’s final took the cherry...
I am happy that I am contributing to the team’s success. I have worked very hard for this and it’s paying off. I will continue to work hard to achieve even more success. It is nice to get the results. I’m feeling good about it.
What did you do different this time?
It’s the same Harbhajan. There’s nothing different about me. I keep on changing some thing or the other (in my bowling). You need to ensure the batsman does not sort you out. If he does, then you will go for runs. Anyway, T20 is a batsman-friendly format. They have the maximum say, so you have to come with a plan and set the batsman up.
So what did the trick — your experience or skill?
As I said, I would set the batsman up and then go for the kill. You have to be smart in this format.
You have to bowl your best ball after setting the field accordingly. You have to back yourself and believe that you can deliver at this point of time. You have to force the batsman to play according to your plan. And it worked. It happens on some days; it doesn’t on some other days. Apart from planning, I would say you should have the skill and the experience. Experience cannot be bought.
You learn from playing.
How do you go about your job these days. Do you restrict the batsman or go for wickets?
When you are defending 120 or 130, you have to set the field and go for wickets. You need to have more fielders in the ring and not give away easy singles. Basically, you need to build the pressure. That’s how I like to do it. It is not rocket science.
How much confidence will you take from this win?
Its always nice to have wickets under your belt. But I am now looking forward for the new season. My Duleep Trophy commitments starts tomorrow (Thursday). Every game is important for me now.
I would like to make sure that I go out and enjoy and give it my best shot and come back into the side (India). That’s what I am playing for.
Rohit Sharma has said that it’s confidence that’s helped him perform so consistently. How much does being among the wickets help the confidence of a bowler?
Wickets give you a lot of confidence. It helps you bowl well and perform better. It is about getting into the habit of scoring runs and taking wickets.
You are leading North Zone in the Duleep Trophy. Is it easy to switch formats at short notice?
Its not easy. But you have to do it. You have to sit back and think it’s going to happen. The more you do it earlier, the better it is for you.
How important is this season?
This season is very important. Every game is an opportunity for me to do well. It’s a chance for me to do well and express myself. I am looking forward to the season and I want to make a comeback to the Indian team.
Your body language suggests you are still hungry. Have you chalked out your return to the Indian team?
If the hunger was not there, I would have gone. Every game is an opportunity and I look forward to it. You have to work hard if you want continue playing at the highest level. Things will automatically fall in place if you concentrate and keeping working. I am definitely looking to do that. I will be back to where I belong.
Which format you enjoy playing the most?
I love playing cricket. But if I have to choose, it has to be Test cricket. It’s a format that tests you physically and mentally. It is not an easy task. It is the toughest form of cricket. And this is the answer you will get from a cricketer who has played 100 Tests. Maybe that’s why it is called Test cricket. It’s a test of everything.
Your tally of 413 Test wickets puts you on top of the tree among active players. Do you still think you can break Anil Kumble’s record of 619 scalps?
Look, if I play I would like to break this record. If I continue to work hard and play for another three to four years, then I will certainly break a few records. I have never played for records, though. My aim has always been to win as many games for India.
How much importance do you assign to criticism?
Criticism is someone’s opinion. And people are entitled to theirs. Some will say good things and some will say bad things, but you should not change the way they want you to be. You know what you can achieve and you must keep on working hard. People will continue to make comments.
Instead of wasting time and energy by replying to them, you should keep on working. I definitely take advice from people I trust. Your senior colleagues and teammates are the ones who feel for you. People can say whatever they want to.
Have you thought of how long you are going to play?
Look, I will continue to play till the time I can. I am young and fit. Age is just a number. It doesn’t matter if you are 25 or 35 years old. Sometimes even a 25-year-old struggles to do what a 35-year-old can do.
Rajasthan Royals leg-spinner Pravin Tambe is turning heads at 42. Do you draw inspiration from him?
I am happy for him because he has proved to the world that at 42 he has still got that hunger and desire to do well. I don’t know him too well, but I have heard from the others that he loves the game and his bowling. With age, you get experience. Look at Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar.
They have guided youngsters and done so well individually. It’s about how you maintain yourself. Also, if you don’t have the hunger you won’t do well.