Your thoughts on Mumbai going through a transition phase...
After playing with Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane at the start of the season, suddenly you find that they are not there, it makes a big difference. Don’t forget Sachin (Tendulkar) also played the first game. So, to suddenly have three new guys coming in is not an easy thing. So that is, perhaps, one of the reasons why Mumbai’s batting has been indifferent this season. I guess as the years go and some of the guys establish themselves and have a permanent place in the side, their confidence will also grow. It is a transition period. Transition periods are invariably inconsistent.
Can you recall a similar transition phase?
I think in the 1970s also, when India was touring the West Indies. In those days, India toured in January-February. That would be clashing with the knockout stages. So, those were the times when four-five players would be away. Those were the transition times as well.
Could the BCCI have tweaked the Ranji schedule to allow the New Zealand-bound players to take part in the quarterfinals?
The schedules are fixed in advance. I don’t think the dates could have been changed. It would have been fantastic for the guys to have played in the different quarterfinals. They could have played and left the day after the quarterfinals finish. If the team was leaving on 11th night/12th morning, maybe three-four players could have left on 12th night/13th morning because the first match is on 19th. I know you lose a day going into New Zealand, but it could still have given them enough days (to acclimatise). This is of course India’s No. 1 tournament and the more competitive it is, the higher the standards and the better the feedback for the selection committee as the teams play at their best and against the best.
What are the areas you think need improvement in domestic cricket?
One area we need to work on is looking to go for outright wins. In Duleep Trophy and all other tournaments, you find teams scoring 600 and dismissing the other team for 300, then bat again all the way till the fifth day without going for an outright win. That hurts us at the international level. Just like going from 100 to 200, you have to have the experience, similarly how to win Test matches has also got a great deal to do with experience. The more we can encourage teams to go for outright wins, the better it is for Indian cricket because then we will be able to find a way when we get stalled. You would expect to get stalled in Tests where international teams won’t lie down and let you win.
Are you pleased with India’s performance in South Africa?
I was very happy with the way they did. They almost beat South Africa in the first Test and had another three good days in Durban. Maybe a couple of bad sessions cost us the Test.
How tough would the New Zealand tour be?
New Zealand again will be tough. Playing in their conditions is never easy. All over the world, the record shows that home teams are tough to beat. It is not going to be easy for India. But if they are going to leave grass on their pitches, that could work to India’s advantage because of the new-ball attack India have.
Do you think Virender Sehwag is right in moving down the batting order?
I think he is happier with the ball coming on to the bat. If you have opened the batting for such a long time, it is a little bit difficult waiting in the dressing room, waiting for your turn to go to bat. The best move for him would be to go back to batting at the top. The new ball will come on to the bat, he can try and score off it. The other thing is that clever captains will confront him with spin straightaway.
Can Yuvraj Singh make a comeback to the Indian team?
In cricket, nothing is impossible, You have one good season, one outstanding season and you can come back. It is up to Yuvraj to show that he has got the burning desire for it. I think he has. And he has just had a bad season. Hopefully he could come back because he adds so much to the Indian team. He is still a top fielder and gets wickets with his spin bowling.
That applies to Sehwag too, doesn't it?
Like I said, nothing is impossible in cricket. It is up to these guys to come back with not just hundreds but double hundreds and stuff like that. Hundreds are not just enough to impress the selectors.
Is Virat Kohli the best batsman in world cricket now?
He has been outstanding, truly outstanding the way he got a century and a near-century in South Africa. It is so nice to see him and Cheteshwar (Pujara) batting the way they did because they are going to be the bulwarks of India's batting in the future.
How different is it to commentate on domestic cricket?
What we don’t often see is the hard work put in by the guys who bring the telecast on to your screens: the cameramen, the technicians, the directors, the producers, the sound guys. They are the real stars of the telecast. The commentators just happen to be the face. We would be nothing if not for the stats guys in the box with us. They are the ones who tell us all the little details because in Tests and ODIs you have more information as you are in touch with it. But for Ranji Trophy matches, the stats guys are champions. They are the ones who give us the background like how the teams have qualified for the knockouts, who has done well, who is short of some runs or a few wickets for a landmark. Without them, we would be completely stranded.