He has bowled another googly. The Kerala boy was in Bombay to announce his endorsement of a soap brand with Priyanka Chopra, immediately sparking rumours about a starry romance.
India’s ace paceman Shanthakumaran Sreesanth tackles questions from Hiren Kotwani
How come a Lux soap ad?
You should have asked this question when Shah Rukh Khan did the commercial. No guy in the world would refuse to do an ad with gorgeous women. As children,we’ve seen ads of Hema Malini endorsing the soap. Now, it’s Priyanka Chopra.. that’s cool.
So will we see you in a bath tub with rose petals?
( Smiles )You never know. Even, I have six pack abs to flaunt. So I wouldn’t mind getting into a bath tub with rose petals.
You’ll be playing for Preity Zinta’s Mohali team in the IPL. How has your interaction with her been?
Preity is a really good motivator. Besides, Yuvraj Singh is the captain. I’m looking forward to playing in Mohali.. that’s where I first got Sachin paaji out.
<b1>What if Preity Zinta offers you a role with her or an item song in a movie?
Right now, my focus is on cricket. As and when that happens, I’ll see. I’m told I can dance pretty okay, but that’s only when we party. Yeah, I’m a crazy movie buff. I try to see the new releases as soon as I can. Even during tours abroad, I see films only in cinema halls. Preity has been a favourite. When I was in the 12th grade, I had plastered her posters inside my wardrobe. Madhubala is another favourite.
Not Priyanka Chopra? Apparently, you’ve been close friends.. and talk on the phone for hours.
Priyanka is a very good friend. I wouldn’t ever hide the fact that I like someone. I’m very real. I don’t shy away from speaking the truth. But besides Priyanka, even Kareena Kapoor is a good actress. And of course, Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit.
So whom are you seeing currently?
Turning to big brother Dipu Santhan. Whom am I seeing? No one. I’m single, single, single.. ready to mingle, mingle, mingle.
And whom do you have a crush on?
Asks his brother again... (laughs ) Do I have any crush right now? I’m looking for a dream girl.. actually, I develop a crush on some girl or the other wherever I go.
Have your teammates teased you about the tape of a conversation between Priyanka Chopra and you.. the one that was leaked to the media?
Not yet. But I’m sure they’ll rag me about it soon.
Did you rag Mahendra Singh Dhoni about Priyanka and Yuvraj Singh about Deepika Padukone when they were in the news for their.. umm.. affairs?
No. We don’t take such subjects in the dressing room. We don’t ask one another about our private lives.
How do you handle female adulation?
I follow a simple theory. Everyone has a heart but I have a city inside.
Yeah, absolutely. I started out with flats and apartments. Now my heart is like one big city.
Wow, congratulations!Okay, you must still be on a high after the Australian tour.
Yeah, it’s a great feeling to defeat Australia in Australia. We played a lot of good cricket. Dhoni bhai was very chilled out.What we do off the field didn’t matter to him as long as we gave our best on the field.
Harbajan Singh was in the centre of a controversy this time. Since you were targeted the last time during the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa, did you help him to get through the sticky situation?
Bhajji is a great player; he’s been around for 10 years. I don’t have to say anything to him, he knows what he’s doing. As a team, our focuswas on the game, to play well and win. We all supported him when he was targeted.
The low profile you maintained during this tour indicates that you’ve done some anger management.
In a way, yes.. a bit. Players mature with experience. I had a shoulder injury, so I had to be cautious that I didn’t stress myself. Besides that, I did a lot of yoga and meditation and went through ayurvedic treatment. If I do anything stupid, I might end up being out of action for three months. You’ll see Sreesanth very soon in the Indian Premiere League matches. Sreesanth isn’t going anywhere.
<b3>Why do you refer to yourself in the third person?
( Glares ) Just.
What is your source of aggression?
On the field. If you ever get on the field, you’ll understand what a cricketer has to go through.
Umm, okay. Who has been your mentor?
Dennis Lillee. I owe a lot to him. And to my dad.
Which team mate do you look up to?
Sachin Tendulkar. I wanted to play cricket because of him. I used to love playing the game as a kid. To play with him now is unbelievable. If cricket is my religion, Sachin is my god.
Will the IPL matches change cricket in India?
It’s a big time opportunity for every cricketer. Players from different countries will be playing together in the same team, against their own national mates from other teams. One hardly plays against one another, unless it’s for matches like the Ranji Trophy. It’s going to be lots of hard work, fun and money.
Isn’t there too much cricket today? Could the IPL gradually lead to a burn-out?
I don’t know about that. I love the game too much. I can play, play and play.. I’d bunk classes to play cricket.
You got a game right now?
What’s next on your game plan?
The South African tour. But for right now, I just want to go to bed.. and sleep.