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The Delhi Daredevils allrounder on his ink-free body, mum's biryani, and comparing sixes with brother Yusuf
Interview by Sharda Ugra
April 16, 2012
What one question do you wish journalists wouldn't ask you?
"When are you getting married?" First I say, "When I get married, I'll tell you." Then I've said, "I will get married to my cricket." Then I say, "I'll get married after my brother." Sometimes I just laugh. Obviously when I get married the whole world is going to know.
Actually, there is another one: "Why has your pace dropped?" I always wondered who they had watched bowling earlier - I have never been a 150kph bowler, always 130. Now it doesn't bother me.
Do you like being an allrounder? Doesn't every bowler really want to be a batsman?
My first love is bowling. I would call myself a bowler who can bat. Nowadays every bowler knows how to bat. You have to bat all the way to Nos. 9 or 10. Like all bowlers, my batting is getting better. Now I'm feeling confident with big hitting. When batsmen hit me out of the park, it's good to have something to give back to the opposition by hitting one out of the park myself.
What's the biggest six you've hit?
I remember two: against RP Singh in an IPL game in Cuttack, maybe in 2010. I think it went out of stadium - either 102m or 110m. The other, off Ben Hilfenhaus, went to the second tier of the SCG, more than 100 metres, off a pull shot.
Was Yusuf impressed?
I called and asked if he'd seen it, [telling him] that it had been bigger than one of his. He said he'd seen it, and it wasn't really that far, and besides Sydney was a good ground to hit shots like those.
Is there one batsman from the past you would like to bowl to?
Definitely Sir Viv. I've watched his videos, and I think he would have been outstanding in Twenty20 cricket.
How would you have got him out?
You know, he liked to take the inswing ball on his pads and flick it over midwicket or square leg… never mind, I would just be happy to bowl to him.
Why don't you have a tattoo?
Because that's not me. I previously thought tattoos were of mehendi/henna [made of natural dyes], that only women would put designs on their hands and feet, but now I know that's not true.
What do you think of guys who have tattoos?
I'm not judging them because of their tattoos. People are different. Sreesanth works differently from me, Umesh [Yadav] has a tattoo and he's a nice guy. You don't know a person's story by their having a tattoo, do you? Why judge?
What about T20 cricket do you really not like?
I wish I could bowl more than four overs, especially if I am bowling well. Actually, I like T20 cricket. Everyone says, "Oh you don't need to have skills". I don't agree. In four overs you have to treat every ball like an over. Sometimes you get physically more tired in 20 overs than 50 overs. In T20 you need to up your skills all the time, be on top of your game.
|"My mother is my hero. She is a very strong woman. She has had health issues but is the pillar of the house. I think of her as a vast ocean who has taken in all the pain and difficulty so she can look after us"|
Your mom's biryani is a famous one. Are you a good cook?
Tea and omlette, that's all I can make. Nothing else. The rest I eat.
How many biryanis you have eaten at a time?
Four full plates of my mom's biryani. What you get outside, in restaurants - it's no comparison. I had come back home after a tour, I asked my mom to cook biryani, and I made sure my stomach was empty.
Kite-flying is a big deal in Gujarat. Were you neighbourhood champions?
We used to be kite-flying champions, kite-catching champions. I loved it. There's a lot of technique involved. I've once fallen ten feet off a low terrace because I was looking up at the sky. The last time I was involved in the kite festival was two years ago. What I don't like about it is that the thread cuts your hand. It's really tough to eat after that, because it stings your hands.
Who is a hero for you outside cricket?
My mother is my hero. She is a very strong woman. She has had health issues, but is the pillar of the house. I think of her as a vast ocean who has taken in all the pain and difficulty so she can look after us. She is my hero, and my dad too, of course. Among sportsmen, Muhammad Ali.
What did you say to Yusuf when he came home after the World Cup?
That we were really proud of him. It was more than words. But I did say it was great that there was at least one Pathan in the World Cup-winning side.
What would you say to him if you knocked his stumps over?
Make sure I stay away from him for the next few days, keep my mouth shut and don't say anything.
Have you ever arm-wrestled? Who wins?
We tried a long time ago as kids. Not anymore. He'd beat me hands down. He is way stronger.
Do you cry while watching movies?
Not cry, but yes, I get emotional - like [while watching] Seven Pounds or The Pursuit of Happyness, the Will Smith films. That's where I came close. Now I have more control over my emotions, I think. I don't get crazily happy or crazily sad. When we beat Kolkata Knight Riders three years ago, and I won Man of the Match after hitting three sixes or so, I would have been jumping. But now I was very calm and controlled.
Munaf, Nehra and Ashwin in a 100-metre race - who will win?
Ashu bhai [Nehra]. I really believe that.
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