Shirin Sadikot in Mohali 25 May 2014 - 10:21pm IST
Eyeing an India comeback: Awana
KXIP pacer reveals his recent slip in pace; speaks of lessons learnt from Dawes and Johnson
This 27-year-old pacer, who was a lynchpin of the KXIP attack in the last IPL, has struggled to get game-time this season, with only four matches under his belt so far. His last outing was against DD in Mohali, where he walked off the field with awesome figures of 3-1-15-2.
In a rather honest chat with IPLT20.com, Awana revealed his struggles in the initial part of the tournament this year and how he overcame them. He also hoped he can do enough in the remaining matches to get a look-in by the national selectors.
Here are excerpts from his interview:
You set the tone for the game with your control over your length with the new ball; you had Kevin Pietersen pretty comfortably.
I bowl my best when I pitch the ball on good length, since I can get the ball to seam around. Against KP, my plan was to hit the pitch as hard as I can and maintain that length.
Has this been a mixed season for you – the team has done so well but you haven’t played many games?
Yes, I played two games in the UAE where the team won but I went for plenty of runs – which most of our bowlers did. Then, I didn’t get a chance for many matches because the new guys were performing so consistently and it made sense to stick with the same team. Then, I got one more game against KKR in Cuttack where I picked one wicket. I was awaiting another chance where I could prove my mettle, and I got it today, at the right time, I think.
You are different from most Indian bowlers as you depend more on pace than swing and variations. Does it benefit you having two Aussies – Joe Dawes and Mitchell Johnson – around?
Absolutely! I have been talking a lot to them. To be honest, my pace had gone down during the initial part of the tournament and I wasn’t putting as much effort as I needed to. That’s when Joe Dawes sat me down and reminded me what I am capable of. I think I swayed away a bit from my basics and got into the relaxed mode. By making me sit out for a few matches, he gave me the kick I needed and pushed me to get right what I am known for. I told the captain (George Bailey) that in the time I sat out, I have worked on my pace and I think I’m there again. And it’s good to have performed the way I did today.
Have you picked anything in particular from Johnson?
I speak a lot to him about pace. I asked him what he does to keep his pace up on a consistent basis. He asked me to just keep working on my fitness. He said, ‘If you are capable of bowling between 140 and 145, you will not get to 150 no matter how hard you work on your bowling or fitness. But if you ignore your physical fitness, your pace will slip.
Dawes told me he really hopes you come back into the Indian team soon. Is that a target you are eyeing with the England tour coming up?
I am very much eyeing the England tour. In fact, only last night, I was jokingly telling Joe Dawes that we have three matches left in this IPL and let me play all of them. I’ll take five wickets in each game and book a seat on that plane for England. But seriously, it was my target coming into this IPL to showcase my skills and fitness and try to make an India comeback.
As someone who has seen him from close quarters, what do you think is the secret of Sandeep Sharma’s success this year?
I know him really well – we play together at the domestic level and I have been with him at KXIP for two years now. He’s a very good boy. He’s very hard working and stays very serious on the field. He has proved his worth and is still improving. This season, the swing bowlers have done really well – guys like Sandeep and Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar). They have really set the base for their teams with early wickets, which has benefitted us a lot.
Is he working on anything particular?
He has been working really hard on his death bowling in the nets. Besides that, he does a lot of work in the gym with our trainer on getting stronger and getting his pace up a bit. If he continues to do that, he will become a good fast bowler by the time he’s 24-25.