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Southpaw Shikhar Dhawan has found the ideal guru in his Deccan Chargers’ captain Kumar Sangakkara. Watching and learning from the elegant Sri Lankan, who is one of the best left-hand batsmen in cricket presently, is the high point for the Delhi lad.
Here, the 26-year-old speaks about sharing the dressing room with senior international players before DC begin their quest to regain the IPL trophy.
Excerpts from Dhawan’s brief chat with iplt20.com:
On playing for the Deccan Chargers under Kumar Sangakkara
It is really a great feeling to be part of the Deccan Chargers and I am lucky to play with Kumar Sangakkara. Earlier also I have played with Sachin paaji [Tendulkar] and other senior players, but playing with Sangakara [is special because] he is a left-hander. I have learnt lots of things from him like, the way he plays the game and the way he approaches the game. It is obviously a good feeling to play with all those big players.
On what helped him improve his batting
The way he [Sangakkara] times the ball, that’s the best thing I like about him and that’s what I follow about him, just time the ball rather than hitting the ball really hard. So that works for me too.
On DC pacer Dale Steyn
He is one of the best bowlers in the world and he is a key bowler. And the way he bowls I guess he can get the better of any batsman in the world. When we are playing in the nets he would ask, “what [kind of ball] are you going to play this shot on,” “how will you play this ball,” [...] [discussing with him how to tackle pace bowling] that’s how you learn his moves and that’s how you learn [to bat against fast bowlers]. It helps playing a fast bowler like him.
On DC’s preparation for regaining the IPL trophy
We are going to have a great preparation camp starting from around the 27th [March], and we will be really positive about playing the matches and winning the tournament.
On his form in the current season
It was fine. Won’t say it was great. The season started off really well but didn’t go that well. The touch is really there and I am feeling confident about IPL.
On how playing in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy helps prepare for IPL 2012
Match practice is the best practice. But of course, these are big matches for us too. We would like to win the tournament [Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy]. Now we have qualified for the semi-finals. I am looking forward to help my team win and hope to contribute big for the team.
On playing alongside the likes of Virender Sehwag in his previous IPL team the Delhi Daredevils
As time passes, you always learn, you gain experience from each and every team, something from Delhi, my Ranji team [also]. You gain experience from seniors or teammates. When I was playing for DD, I used to talk to AB de Villiers and other seniors players and used to get experience in everything. AB de Villiers is good fielder, so I used to ask him, “What is it that makes you that special?” He told me, “Be attentive and enjoy your fielding as much as you can.” [...] Every year, I am gaining more experience and enjoying the game more.
21-year-old Surya Kumar Yadav has impressed with some crucial knocks for Mumbai in the ongoing domestic season. A prolific run-scorer, he was part of the CLT20 2011-winning Mumbai Indians side and even contributed a useful 24 runs in the final.
Excerpts from Surya’s exclusive chat with iplt20.com:
On the current domestic season
The season has been good. Though I didn’t get much of a chance to play during the Deodhar Trophy, it is good that we won the trophy. This was the first time that I played [in the competition] and the first trophy that has come our way this season. So it is a big positive. On the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament providing a good build up to the IPL
It is a good warm up. Getting to play matches like this and playing competitive cricket like this before the IPL is good. It is good practice. If one gets to play a good competitive match against a good side, it is a good warm-up. If I make runs, it will help boost my confidence for IPL.
On being counted as a player who can perform after his recent performances on the domestic circuit
Feels good if someone says I am a player who can be counted on to perform. After my Ranji Trophy season, people are looking at me as a [more accomplished] player so I will have to perform accordingly, taking on my role with responsibility. If someone sees me bat they should feel that I have become more compact as a player rather then as someone who hits hard. The more I understand these things and grab the opportunities that come my way, the better it is for me.
On playing under Sachin Tendulkar
Everyone all over the world wants to play under [him] and share the dressing room with him. It is a very big thing and it helps [one grow as a player]. He motivates you to play [and guides you as to] how to play and how to score runs. While batting with him you don’t realise when the runs get scored. He makes his runs and helps the batsman at the other end score too.
On MI’S fielding coaches – Robin Singh and Jonty Rhodes
I have been working with [Robin Singh and Jonty Rhodes] since last year, mostly with Jonty Sir. Earlier, whenever I used to watch him field on TV, I would want the ball to go to him all the time so I could keep watching him field. Now that he is the MI coach, I feel even better. Last year, whenever I had the opportunity, I would work with him on my fielding. He is always ready to give fielding practice.
On how his fielding has improved
As compared to last year, I have made a lot of progress. Whatever [Jonty] has taught [us] about throwing techniques and direct hits and other such things has helped me improve. He says things like, “Runs saved on the field would mean lesser runs to score for the batsmen [while chasing]”. He has been giving us pointers on that. They may be small things but that helps a lot on the ground. We had a practice match in which he himself went out on the field. He said, “I will field and show you how to do it”. He himself went and fielded at point position, which used to be his spot when played. He saved five runs and took a catch. That particular catch would have been a difficult one for someone else, probably, but he held on to it. His effort helped us win that practice match.
On Jonty’s coaching techniques
He takes pictures and videos of us during fielding practice and shows them to us so that we can learn from them. I haven’t seen [such methods being used] before. It improves our fielding a lot. And I think as compared to the last year, my fielding and throwing technique has improved a lot this year.
On Kieron Pollard and big hitting
Whenever he has seen me bat, he has only said, “If you have the power [to hit big], then try to clear the ground upfront. Don’t waste your wicket trying to sweep or cut. If you get out lbw, there is no point regretting it later.”
On MI’s chances in IPL 2012 with international and domestic stars being available
MI’s chances have improved even more. We feel we have an all-star team, so the chances have increased. The options have increased in terms of players. Even if someone isn’t able to play, or is injured, then the replacement is also [impressive]. No doubt about that.
On the role of Mumbai seniors like Rohit Sharma and Dhawal Kulkarni in the MI squad
It helps. They help while [you’re] batting [with them] and [during sessions] in the nets. If you need to ask them something or if you want to tell something, they are there to help out and figure things out quickly. If you have been playing together for the past couple of years for the same state, there is an understanding; they tell you [what needs to be done] instantly. They interact with you and explain where you’re going wrong and show you ways of improving.
On skipper Sachin Tendulkar’s hundredth international ton
We have been waiting for it for a long time but we have [grown up] watching all his other centuries as well. All I would say is congratulations; I’ll congratulate him in person when I meet him. I hope he keeps playing and making runs and that we keep enjoying watching him bat.