Dhawal eyes India cap with IPL performance

Rejuvenated pacer looks forward to performing for Rajasthan Royals

Mumbai 07 April 2014
When he turns out for the Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2014, Dhawal Kulkarni will be aiming for the India cap which has so far proven to be elusive for the pacer. The young pacer was recruited by the franchise, which is known to have given quite a few players a stage to perform and get noticed.

Kulkarni was part of the Indian team that toured New Zealand in 2008-09, but returned without getting a single match. And then, he even had to sit out the home series against West Indies in November 2013 as he sustained an injury on the day he was picked in the squad.

Now, after a layoff, he has come back hard and has been making an impact in the domestic circuit. The young pacer from the stables of Mumbai has continuously honed his skills and learnt from seniors. While speaking to, he discussed the valuable inputs he got from ace India pacer Zaheer Khan and former India captain Sachin Tendulkar. “The help that I got from Sachin last year was amazing. That was the best thing that I could have ever got,” he said.

Armed with all the inputs, Kulkarni is now looking forward to impress during the upcoming IPL season.

Excerpts from his interview:

You have made an impactful comeback. How did you prepare for it?

It was a tough season for me, I had just played the first game of the Ranji Trophy and got picked for the series against West Indies on the basis of my performance in the series against New Zealand A. It was tough on me to get picked into the Indian team and then on the same day to get injured and be out for three months. It was long break and there was nothing to do. I couldn’t do much because of the fracture. Every day was like a month.

Before the Deodhar Trophy West Zone League that I played in, different things went into the preparation. First I was at the NCA for my rehabilitation, and then I started bowling. Gradually, I got my rhythm back. And so it was a long journey in a short span. It has been tough on me, but I took it as a challenge and right now I am back.

What was it that you did that has helped you come back so well?

Nothing much. I kept thinking about what I had I done during the A series against New Zealand, because that was where I was bowling at a 100 percent and the rhythm was fantastic. So after a break of a month or so, I started thinking what I was doing and what I wanted to improve. I wanted to become a better bowler after that. I had a challenge to come back. Because it was a long break, I couldn’t do much and I was just thinking, sitting at home, doing nothing. The only thing was, I wanted to get back on the field, and I was dying to get back.

What is your strength while bowling on subcontinent wickets?

I just stick to my basics. I bowl in the stumps and try to get the ball to swing away from the right-hander, and the same way get it in for the left-hander.

You have been picked by the Rajasthan Royals where you will have quite a few of your Mumbai teammates. How does that feel?

It feels great to be part of a new team after six long years. I was with the Mumbai Indians, and to be part of this new team is going to be a really new experience for me and one that I am looking forward to.

RR is known for giving opportunities to emerging players. Do you look forward to that?

Yes, absolutely! I wasn’t getting proper chances when I was with the Mumbai Indians, because there were all great bowlers there. Here, it is a new team, a young team, so I am sure I will get chances. I just have to prove myself on that level.

Are you raring to have a go at your Mumbai and former MI teammate Rohit Sharma?

Rohit is a wonderful guy and a wonderful player. He has been in good form. I am raring to have a go at him.

How much has Zaheer Khan’s presence helped you?

Bowling in tandem with Zaheer is really great. He is the greatest bowler that India has produced and to share the new ball with him is an honour for me.

What have you picked up from him?

How to get the batsman out and how to plan and set the batsman up while bowling. The things that I have learnt are bowling with the old ball and how to reverse the ball. And once last year, or the year before that, he shared with me things about wrist position and how to hold the ball when you are swinging it. Also, how to pitch it up and how to get back spin (are what I learnt from him). There were many things that he shared with me.

And along with that, the help that I got from Sachin last year was amazing. That was the best thing that I could have ever got. When he used to stand at mid-on or mid-off, he used to tell me what to bowl and where to bowl. And looking at the situation, he used to help me a lot while bowling and that has improved me as a bowler and improved my mentality as well.

What is your goal going into the season?

The goal is to give my best this year. It is going to be big season ahead; there is the England series and Australia series coming up. So this IPL is going to be really crucial and I am looking forward to it.

What have been the gains from IPL for you over the years?

It was really new for me when I played first. I hadn’t, till then, played in front of such big crowds. So it was a completely new thing for me. And it was a matter of pride to share the dressing room with great players. I had always dreamt of sharing a dressing room with such players.

What has helped your bowling over the last few years?

I have improved on my pace and consistency, which was lacking when I started playing.

As a bowler grows older, skill along with pace becomes very crucial. What is your take on that?

With pace and skill, fitness was important for me. Initially, I didn’t look at fitness much, but later on, the senior players pushed me during the off-season camp. They helped me with fitness. And I learnt a lot about fitness and how it helps and why it is important.
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