A decent domestic outing but you are still out of Team India for the New Zealand tour. How disappointed are you?
It may not seem true but I am not disappointed that I’m not picked for the tour of New Zealand. I think that is a work in progress. I’m more disappointed that Delhi is out of the Ranji Trophy competition this year. I really wanted to see Delhi at the top but unfortunately a rained-off match against Jharkhand, some poor application by our batsmen in the game against Punjab dashed our hopes. My personal performance counts for little if my team is not going anywhere.
You and Virender Sehwag still have an average of over 53 as opening pair. In hindsight, do you think Sehwag’s decision to bat in the middle-order was wrong — giving the impression that maybe it’s time for a new opening partnership?
Look that is Viru bhai’s personal decision. He is my senior colleague. It is his call where he wants to bat and also how the team can accommodate his change of batting slot. Our partnership, I think if we are destined to partner at some stage again we may do it — me as a top-order bat and he in the middle.
You opted for green turfs during home games of the Ranji Trophy. Don’t you feel that playing on typical Kotla wicket would have given you a better opportunity to make big scores?
Cricket is a team game and I can’t take decisions that suit my personal game or comfort. I feel that is the bane of Indian cricket that sometimes we focus too much on personalities rather than a group. Yes, as a captain I could have chosen to play on placid tracks of Ferozeshah Kotla and got bulk of runs but that won’t have taken Delhi Ranji team anywhere or not taken Delhi cricket forward. I finished as the highest run-getter for Delhi but look where we are as a team, we are out of the competition.
Last time when Team India visited New Zealand, you were the most successful batsman of the team. Did you feel that would help you get a call from national selectors?
I’ve said earlier that I don’t look at comebacks alone. It is a conscious decision because if you look at personal goals the bigger picture tends to blur. If the team wins, I contribute and get a national recall I am fine with it. Whether in KKR, Delhi, ONGC or briefly for India, I have always tried to instil the “Team First” culture.
As Delhi skipper too, was it disappointing to see teams like Jammu & Kashmir making it to the knock out phase and Delhi nowhere in the picture?
In fact, I’d like to congratulate the J&K team for making the cut. Last year, I remember Services reached the semifinals, this year it is J&K, these things augur well for Indian cricket. It is simple, if Indian cricket needs to grow, different teams need to make the knockouts and new champions need to emerge. Just like in Australia, New South Wales has won their domestic competition 45 times followed by Victoria 28 and Western Australia on 15 occasions. But when Tasmania or Queensland achieve the same levels of consistency, it will help increase the pool of cricketers there as well.
You must have watched Indian openers in South Africa. How do you access their performance against pace attack?
I think (Murali) Vijay looked really good in both the Test matches. He was sure of his off-stump, played with surety, he was moving really well, he played with still head and stamped his authority with some really good strokes. More than his 90 odd, I was happy and impressed to see they he batted in the first Test match at Johannesburg. The conditions there were more challenging. Shikhar (Dhawan) may not have good huge amount of runs, but I think we need to give him time. You cannot always look million dollar, especially away from home. I hope critics are not too harsh on him, they should give him time.
A word on Shikhar Dhawan — your Delhi teammate. Do you feel he needs to make any adjustments in his technique or otherwise to get runs overseas?
Come on why do we assess players every day. The same Shikhar was scoring runs in each game he played and now you are asking me about his technique, it’s ridiculous. He is a fantastic player, I think you should just let him be.
What next for you? How are you planning to get back in the national squad?
For me, next is the next game, whenever that is, be it Irani Trophy or Duleep Trophy or whatever competition. Play those games and try and help the team win and in the process get runs.
Last question. Have you made some adjustments to your technique after being dropped from the squad. If yes, then please describe?
There is nothing specific. I’ve just tried to watch the game with clear head, play with still head and assured footwork. Cricket is a simple game, if you want it to be.
@shekharluthra on Twitter