In an exclusive chat, RP Singh told iplt20.com what it feels like to be part of the mighty MI team.
We’ve seen you work on your batting during the nets. Is there a hint or two there?
If one wants to survive in this format, one should be really good in at least two aspects of cricket and be able to perform a bit in the third aspect as well. Other than bowling and fielding, I should be able to contribute something in the third area – batting – as well. So keeping that in mind, our coaches have decided that we will practice batting every day. All the bowlers, not just me, are working on that. With a few hits last year, Lasith Malinga had won MI matches and so has Harbhajan Singh [earlier]. I would also like to change the match with the bat.
Some of your teammates from your former IPL team, Deccan Chargers, are now with you in the Mumbai Indians side. How does that feel?
It feels good that a few of us are together again. Pragyan Ojha, Rohit Sharma, Herschelle Gibbs, [Andrew] Symonds [who has] retired now and Robin Singh [coach] are also with us. It feels good that our combination [is back together]. We have all performed for DC so suddenly all of us have come together for another team once again. It is good for us too.
The Mumbai Indians had a good run in IPL 2011 and went on to win CLT20 2011. How do you see MI’s prospects at IPL 2012?
Whenever you are participating in a tournament or a big event, the aim is to be No 1. Once you have reached the final, No. 1 is the only important position. Instead of 100 percent, we will give it our 110 percent so that we can win the championship.
Your team boasts three Purple Cap-winners – Lasith Malinga and Pragyan Ojha and you. A heady mix?
Five of the top ten bowlers [in the competition] are in our team. It is good. There will be healthy competition amongst us. It’s likely that all five won’t play at the same time [, but you never know]. [smiles]. Having three Purple Cap-winners in one team is a big thing and it is a good sign that our bowling line-up has become stronger because of that. Apart from the three Purple Cap-winners, we have two or three other [strong] bowlers.
Last year you played a key role as part of the Kochi Tuskers Kerala team that beat Mumbai Indians in a high-scoring game at the Wankhede. This time you will be playing here as part of the home team. Your thoughts?
I have played on many wickets in the IPL and also during the domestic season but last year we observed that the MI wickets [at the Wankhede stadium] are a little better for medium pacers. The bounce and the nip, as compared to other wickets, are slightly better here. Last year I had performed well against MI. I had conceded 13-14 runs in four overs [in the high-scoring game] against MI because here the movement is good and the bounce is better. It was a high-scoring game but my strength is to swing the ball [and that worked]. The concentration will be on the length of the delivery and I know that if I get the seam position right, I will be able to swing the ball. I will try the same thing this time too. The wicket is a little better than the ones I have played on for the last two years whether with Deccan Chargers or Kochi Tuskers. Those were more batsmen-friendly while this wicket is a bit 40-60 – 60 percent for the batsmen and 40 percent for the bowlers. Those were 70-30 [70 percent in favour of the batsmen and 30 in favour of the bowlers].
It has often been said that the wicket here aids the bowlers. Why do you think that is?
That may be because of the breeze or the red soil. Whatever the reason, the wicket here is slightly better.
What does it feel like to be bowling alongside Lasith Malinga?
I have played a lot against him but we will play together now. I will try and learn to bowl a good yorker from him; it will add to my skills.
What was your reaction to MI skipper Sachin Tendulkar’s landmark hundredth century?
People are not even able to play 100 matches and he has scored 100 hundreds! He has achieved everything that a batsman can achieve. I don’t think these records can be broken. I think we are lucky to share the dressing room with him and we will also learn and grow from his experiences.
Does playing under Sachin Tendulkar entail additional pressure or responsibility?
I have played alongside him but this is the first time that I will be playing under him. There is always responsibility. [...] We have learnt a lot from him. From the bowlers’ point of view, hitting the right areas is important rather than just the number of wickets we take. How well we execute the plans that are made by the captain and support staff [shows on] our performance. If we are able to bowl to the plan we are successful. It doesn’t matter how many wickets we have claimed but hitting the right areas is important. There is no fear or pressure as such. We have learnt a lot from him and he has taught us a lot of things. The way he reads the batsmen is a little different [from how others do it]. [...] He reads the batsmen very well [so one learns from that]. On the field, sometimes the plans that we have made earlier don’t fit into the situation. Here the captain’s role comes into play. How he reads the situation, charts an alternate plan and gets us to execute it [is key].