Agarkar wants to contribute with the bat
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Agarkar wants to contribute with the bat

Ajit Agarkar is in the midst of his best series as a bowler but is thinking of ways to do the trick with the bat as well to contribute as a genuine all-rounder.

india Updated: Dec 21, 2003 11:52 IST

Ajit Agarkar is in the midst of his best series as a bowler but is thinking of ways to do the trick with the bat as well in order to contribute to the team as a genuine all-rounder.

"As a bowler, I have waited for a while for a five-wicket haul. But it is a motivation to contribute consistently with the bat at number eight," Agarkar said.

Agarkar took six wickets in Australia's second innings in the Adelaide Test to set up an Indian win and has 13 scalps from the two Tests, the best from either side as Australian leg-spinner Stuart MacGill is second with eight wickets.

"It always helps the team if you could contribute some 20-odd runs down the order. If the last four gets 20 each, it means 80 runs for the team. It helps," Agarkar told PTI in an interview here.

Although Agarkar's show with the bat has been a much improved one than the last time that he toured the country when he scored five ducks in a row, the player said he was aiming for better scores.

"I need to get a few more runs, I got starts in both games but probably played poor shots."

"Last time I kept getting out (for ducks). There was nothing I could do, whether defending or attacking I was getting out. It was not making any difference the way I played," said the all-rounder.

Agarkar said he has improved as a bowler with experience and now knows his body better, as well as the kind of bowling suited in given conditions.

"It's important to know the conditions and about self on a wicket like Adelaide, it is important to mix it up. When a batsman gets used to the pace, there is not much in the bowling."

"If I can get the ball to move, I would still do it. The Kookaburra ball, once it gets older in the middle overs, does not swing much. Back home the SG ball still moves in the middle overs. When it does not move, you just need to maintain decent line and length and keep the pressure on."

Agarkar is not one's idea of a typical fast bowler given his build but he said after injuries in his first two years he has worked on his fitness.

"There were couple of injuries in the first two years. But in the last three years, working with the trainer, and a lot of gym work has helped me understand my body better.

"I am not a big guy so I concentrate on maintenance. Usually I build the fitness in the off-season of three months and then try to maintain it.

"There are not many fast bowlers of my size (to get inspired with). But I have enjoyed watching Michael Holding in action, Glenn McGrath as well as Allan Donald."

It has been a roller-coaster ride for Agarkar who, started off as a batsman, was spotted by Sachin Tendulkar as a fast bowler with potential in a club match and then largely remained a cricketer who could not quite fulfil his promise.

"There was a club game in Mumbai. Sachin was there and he watched me bowling. He encouraged me to give it a try. Fortunately, it worked well for me, I got a break for Mumbai pretty quickly and started bowling a lot."

Agarkar soon burst into the Indian one-day side as a teenage bowler and promptly took 50-odd wickets in his first year and then kept slipping in and out of the team.

"I am still averaging one and a half wicket per match in one-day internationals. I took 50 wickets in first season but it is not possible to keep with that rate all the time.

After the Australia fiasco, things started to change for Agarkar with better discipline and before his Adelaide heroics, his century in the Lord's Test last year was the highlight of his career.

Agarkar rates Aravinda de Silva, Inzamam-ul Haq and Ricky Ponting as the more destructive batsmen he has bowled to in his career.

He too likes being aggressive but more by way of his body language than using sledging as a weapon.

"There are times when you say a word or two. But as long as you are getting the ball in the right area there is pressure on the batsmen anyway. As long as your body language says (you are aggressive), that's more important than getting some words out."

Agarkar was all praise for Sanjay Manjrekar who was his Ranji Trophy captain when he made debut for Mumbai.

"Manjrekar helped me a lot. He was very good, probably one of the best I have played under. He has good knowledge of the game, he is a good reader and assesses the game very well."

First Published: Dec 21, 2003 11:51 IST