In an age when foreigners are usually considered to take over as coach and members of support staff, R Sridhar's selection as the fielding coach of Kings XI Punjab for the seventh edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) raised many eyebrows.
"I was myself pleasantly surprised," says the man who represented Hyderabad in first-class cricket for 22 years.
"I was working with the Board of Control for Cricket in India, National Cricket Academy (NCA) for five years. I have done two World Cups with India Under-19 team, both in Australia where we won and Dubai," adds Sridhar.
Sridhar has an added advantage. Having worked in the NCA, he is familiar with almost all Kings XI cricketers. "I have worked with all the players in the NCA and I know their strengths and weaknesses," he says.
Considering good fielding can win matches in T20 cricket, he plans to work on the strength of each player, push them a bit further depending on their individuality. That also applies to the foreign cricketers, he is no mood to mollycoddle them.
"My style is not to change the individuality of a player, but work on his mindset. Fielding is about mindset. These days, youngsters treat fielding as a primary skill, it is something they enjoy and are aware it can win them matches in T20," says Sridhar, adding: "Fielding is the most spectator-friendly thing in cricket now apart from sixes and fours. People love to watch a terrific catch being taken."
The first day of the IPL camp with the team at Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali was about various drills, hand-eye co-ordination work and throwing techniques. "We will be looking to have quite a few direct hits in IPL," he alerts.
Wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha, tweaker Akshar Patel and batsman Manan Vohra are already in his good books. "Even Cheteshwar Pujara is working hard on his fielding, he can create an impact this year," believes Sridhar.
Being a bowler with 91 wickets under his belt, will he also be helping in that department?
"Depends what head coach Sanjay Bangar wants. Fielding and wicket-keeping are my areas. But if the team requires me to help in other areas, I will do that too," he adds.
Having been in Dubai for the U-19 Asia Cup and World Cup, he is well-versed with the conditions and believes the wicket will favour slower bowlers.
When asked about the cricketers he is looking forward to in this IPL, the answer was obvious, "Virender Sehwag, Glen Maxwell and Mitchell Johnson."