‘Finals were like a Ranji match’
Crowds follow him wherever he goes. But the fan following has had little impact on India's latest bowling sensation Praveen Kumar, who wants to enjoy the game like he did earlier.
The 21-year-old seamer rocked world champions Australia with devastating spells in the tri-series finals to play a crucial part in India's historic victory. HT caught up with the all-rounder during his short visit to the state capital. Excerpts:
Are you experiencing a change after the success in Australia?
Undoubtedly, the success has boosted my confidence, but I haven't lost my head.
You didn't look excited after taking wickets in the finals?
I am 'famous' for my on field acts in domestic cricket, so I was cautious against the Aussies. Any unconventional behaviour could have got me into trouble. Aggression is a must in cricket, especially against the Australians, but it should be in the mind, not in the heart.
Did you expect to play and come up with fantastic spells?
I was confident of playing, as there were a lot of matches before the finals. But I wasn't sure about the superlative show. I focussed on my strengths and that helped.
Were you surprised after being given the new ball in Brisbane (the second final)?
No. Even in my one-off tie against Pakistan, Dhoni had encouraged me to commence with the new ball. Here too, he asked me to be confident and the results are before you.
Did you feel the pressure of bowling to greats like Gilchrist, Ponting & Hayden?
It was like a Ranji Trophy match and there was no pressure. I was confident of getting wickets, as I knew my ability to swing the ball late would be a boon.
After both the matches, you avoided speaking to the commentators?
Apna haath angregi me thora tang hai (I hesitate while speaking in English). I have decided not to miss further opportunities, but I will only speak in my mother tongue Hindi.
How did it feel to share the dressing room with Tendulkar and Dhoni?
It was fascinating and like a dream come true. The seniors were very supportive and inspired me to do well.
Do you see Uttar Pradesh cricket benefitting from your success?
I am happy that several cricketers from the state are in the national side. It is inspirational to have teammates like RP, Raina and Chawla around you, especially on such a long tour.