Left-arm spinner tells G Krishnan he doesn’t want to underestimate the Aussies even though they are without Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey
How crucial is this Irani Cup tie for you, going into the series against Australia?
It’s an ideal preparation for such a big series. You get to play a five-day game against one of the best sides in the Ranji Trophy. Mumbai have also got a few international players. It’ll be a good match. I’m certainly looking forward to it. If I do well here, I’ll carry the momentum to the Test series.
Happy the way the season has panned out for you?
I think of the team first. The England series would have been better had we beaten them. No matter how many wickets I may have taken, they are secondary to me. We should have won. Right now, I am just focussing on doing well against Australia and winning the series. That is my aim. I’m trying to be fitter, so that we give the Australians a tough fight and win the four-match series.
Any additions to your bowling armour?
Not really. I am just trying to be fitter and stronger. I’ve been speaking to Anil bhai (Anil Kumble). He said the only thing I must work on is to get fitter and stronger. He told me I’ve to be so fit that the way I bowl in the first hour of a series should be no different to my spell in the last session of the final Test. I’m working hard to get my bowling fitness and become stronger as it would help me in the upcoming games and in the long run as well.
Before the two-Test series against New Zealand, you had said you wanted to become fitter. Have you lost weight since then?
Getting fitter is not only about losing weight. It is also about building muscles, while burning excess fat. It is about getting stronger.
What have you been doing after the England series?
I took a few days off, trained at the National Cricket Academy for a couple of weeks, and then played the Corporate Trophy for my employers, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL). So, I’m keen to build on the momentum before the Tests against Australia.
Did you get specific tips from Kumble during your stay at the National Cricket Academy?
I normally discuss with Anil bhai as to what I should be doing. He is a great example for all young bowlers like me. I often discuss with him how he progressed in his career and the important aspects he focused on. We also discuss our bowling. He tells me I’ll bowl better once I start following a fitness regime and work really hard. He maintains that one’s enthusiasm should be the same towards close of play as at the start.
Australia are without Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey. You think you have a better chance against them?
When you are playing Tests, it is all about taking 20 wickets. My focus is on getting those wickets. I’ll not take any team lightly.