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Cutting down on delicacies to balance game and girth

india Updated: Sep 08, 2011 00:00 IST
Sanjjeev Karan Samyal
Sanjjeev Karan Samyal
Hindustan Times
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In this fit England side, the Gujarati-speaking Samit Patel stands out. Amidst the athleticism of Ian Bell, the chiseled frame of Tim Bresnan and the lean and mean look of Stuart Broad, Patel is the odd man out with his bulging waistline. But then cricket is not only about sprinting and diving. It is as much a game of skill and holding your nerve. What he lacks in athleticism, Patel makes up with his fighting qualities.

And, for coach Andy Flower, fearlessness is one of the important qualities he looks for in his player. "We are a confident bunch at the moment, we play aggressive and hard cricket. We are not afraid of failure at all. I think that is the secret behind our success," the left-arm spinner and attacking batsman told the Hindustan Times after England's win over India in the second ODI.

Smarting from the whitewash in the Tests, many predicted England would face a backlash from India in the limited over series. The second half of the tour started with the Twenty20 game at Manchester last Tuesday, and Patel ensured there would be no regrouping.

That game boiled down to England needing 10 in the last over. Patel finished it off with three fours. It was the closest India have got to winning on this tour.

Patel, whose family has roots in Gujarat, admitted his Indian background was an extra motivation to perform well. "It drives me - having an Indian background playing for England. The supporters don't really like it but I love it. It is something I can't help. Playing for England has been my dream and no one is going to take that away.

"I always wanted to do well against India. It's a massive game for me. I look to knock it up a notch when I play against India, especially since they are the world champions," the Leicester-born player added.

On the T20 game, he said: "It was massive game for me, to score 10 to win in the last over and pulling it off against, who else, but super team India. It's important for me to win the game from whatever situation we are in. At the moment I am doing that, but want some more runs."

This season, Patel is on a comeback after losing his place in 2008. He was dropped mainly over fitness issues. It is also something which Flower has openly talked about. So, how does he deal with it?

"It's both, scoring runs and fitness work which we are required to do. The going is good at the moment because I am doing a mixture of both and the coach is happy at the moment."

For someone who has grown up on Gujarati delicacies, it must be tough to control? "I have cut a lot of stuff at home, like rice and fried food etc. I am going well with my diet at the moment," the all-rounder said.

Patel's skills are an appealing combination for the Indian Premier League, but he is not losing sleep over it. "If it happens, it happens, if it doesn't, it doesn't."