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Pragyan Ojha has been working hard on his bowling in the Mumbai Indians nets at the Wankhede Stadium under the guidance Robin Singh for the last few days. The left-arm spinner, who was part of the Deccan Chargers squad that won IPL 2009, hopes to recreate the magic that will help MI lift the IPL trophy in 2012.
The soft-spoken Hyderabadi spoke to iplt20.com about being part of the MI family.
Excerpts from his interview:
You have been part of a franchise (DC) that won the IPL trophy, and now you are part of MI who lifted the CLT20 trophy in 2011. How does that add to your and your team’s confidence going into IPL 2012?
It is a very good feeling when you are playing for a side, which has got a lot of history behind it. We won the [IPL] trophy for Deccan Chargers 2009 and recently Mumbai Indians won the Champions League T20 2011, so I am really excited. The names that the Mumbai Indians has got [in the team] really excite me, and I am looking forward to playing some good cricket with them.
You are sharing the dressing room with some of the best players on the international circuit. What would you be looking forward to learning from them?
Yes definitely, at this level and you are playing with such big names and [with] the amount of competition you are facing when you play consistently and share your dressing room with them, you learn a lot. If you are a street smart guy then you definitely learn a lot. And whenever I get a chance, I grab it [the opportunity to learn] with both hands.
We have seen you work tirelessly with Robin Singh in the nets since you joined the MI camp. What have you learnt from him?
I believe that Robin Singh is all about hard work. [...] Every time he comes on to the field, he gives his best. So what I have learnt from him is if you keep working hard and you give your best every time you are on the field, everything else will follow. I am a strong believer of hard work and I just forget everything [else] and I try and do what I am best at.
What have you been working on in the last few days?
I try and keep things very simple. I just stick to my line and length and I try and vary a bit with my pace. That’s what I keep working on, because every time you think you are getting better, you are not. That’s what I feel, so you [have to] keep working hard [and] at some point of time it shows and it pays off.
Quite a few of your teammates from your former franchise DC are now with MI. How does that work moving forward?
It feels great that most of the guys from Deccan Chargers [are here]. It will be fun again [with] us all gelling together. Hopefully we will be able to do the same that we did for Deccan Chargers in 2009 and God willing get the cup for Mumbai Indians.
The Mumbai Indians have a strong bowling line-up comprising you, Lasith Malinga, Harbhajan Singh, Munaf Patel, RP Singh and others. What are your thoughts on that?
Altogether the team combination is superb. It’s just that we have to go [in matches] and execute our plans. I like to keep it very simple. We have got some big names [in the game in our team] so if we play to our potential and just stick to the basics, I think we will do very well. I am very confident about it.
How do you feel about getting the opportunity to share the dressing room with senior bowler Harbhajan Singh once again?
Definitely Bhajji paa has played about 12 years of international cricket and is senior guy, so it will be great to play alongside him. He is always sharing a lot of experience. It will be fun.
The last time you played at the Wankhede Stadium, you had put up an impressive performance against the West Indies. Does that give you more confidence going into the tournament?
Definitely! If you see the history of the Wankhede stadium, there is some kind of turn on the wicket and there is good bounce, so I am hopeful that it will really help spinners. There are not many wickets in India that give a true bounce and this wicket gives a good amount of bounce. So I am really happy that if you plan out things and hit the right areas, you can deceive batsmen with bounce.
What are your thoughts on Sachin Tendulkar’s hundredth international hundred?
Whenever Sachin paaji gets a hundred, it is always special for every Indian. It is always special to see him get runs, and everyone is praying for him. It is great and I wish he gets many more hundreds and he keeps winning for us.
David Jacobs, who has successfully led his domestic team the Warriors, loves the Mumbai Indians with the same intensity. The South African wicketkeeper-batsman has even acquired an Indian name for when he is playing in India.
In a lighthearted chat with iplt20.com he revealed some lesser known facts about himself.
1. Nickname: Davy J or my India name is Devendra Kumar Jacobs. I needed an Indian name so my teammates last year gave it to me.
2. Idol: Stephen King, the fictional writer.
3. Life Mantra: Live in bliss and the universe will open doors where there are only walls.
4. Favourite cuisine: South African steak brie.
5. Favourite beverage: Beer.
6. I can’t do without: In this order- my wife Liz, my daughter Lilly and all my gadgets like my iPad, Blackberry and all that.
7. Favourite movie: For Love of the Game, Kevin Costner
8. Favourite band: That’s a tough one. I love all kinds of music, anything really.
9. Style statement: Any good brand. Any good label. I am a pretty casual guy. [...] In any scenario looking as good as possible.
10. Favourite TV series: True Blood at the moment.
11. Best pal in cricket: Rusty Theron.
12. The toughest bowler I’ve faced: Craig Thyssen because he doesn’t bowl; [he is] my teammate from the Warriors.
13. The easiest bowler I’ve faced: Craig Thyssen because he doesn’t bowl [laughs].
14. Favourite shot: I enjoy a flick going to the stands.
15. The best bowler in the world is: Got to go with Lasith Malinga.
16. The best batsman in the world is: Since I am in India and playing for Mumbai Indians, it is Sachin Tendulkar.
17. Favourite stadium in the world: St Georges Park in Port Elizabeth, my home ground and then my second home ground, Wankhede Stadium.
18. Best dismissal: one of my most memorable ones was when I was standing up to stumps for Munaf Patel and I think the batsman was Daniel Christian who tried to swipe and I stumped him at a crucial time of the game.
19. Bowlers you enjoyed keeping for: Lasith Malinga and Rusty Theron.
20. If I weren’t a cricketer I’d be: A fictional writer like Stephen King. I do write in any case.