On reaching 10,000 first-class runs
At this point of time I really, really want to cherish this moment. I made my debut when I was 20 back in 2000, and it has been a long journey. But it has all happened so fast, and sometimes it feels like a blur. I have had many failures during these 16 years. I can recall days when I just wanted to leave the game and kill myself. Many times I have thought about getting a nine to five job, but when I look back at all these difficulties, today's success feels sweeter. At this moment I also want to thank my family, my friends, who have had some role to play in shaping my career. I also want to share this moment with all my team-mates over the years.
The key milestones before 10,000 runs
I cherish my best first-class knock - my 250, which was against Mumbai in Mumbai. As part of the Tamil Nadu team, I reached three finals, and these moments are important to me. Later, I went on to play as a professional for Vidarbha, and in my first year we qualified for the knockouts. It was a new environment, and it was about stepping up as a leader.
The first hundred
It came against Karnataka in 2000 at the IIT Chemplast ground in Chennai. It was my second Ranji match, and that hundred made me believe in myself and believe that I belonged to this level. In that match I opened with Rajat Bhatia in both innings. In the first match against Goa I had failed, and the team management asked me if I could open against Karnataka. I was like: "Oh my god, I am asked to open in my second match in Ranji". I was scared if I don't open, I may not have a chance of playing in the XI. Hemang [Badani], Robin [Singh], who made a hundred in that match, and S Sharath were all at their best that time.
As I went out to bat, I shook everything off and my mind was clear. I was watching the ball well and I was feeling good. As a batsman, I had always dreamed of getting hundreds. Another incident comes to my mind. I was actually saving this for maybe writing in my book. When I was playing a Karnataka offspinner, I went right back on the back foot to play a leg-glance. I just lost the balance and disturbed a stump with my leg. The bail had fallen down, and I simply continued running. I was in the 40s at that time, and Thilak Naidu, the keeper, started appealing. Other Karnataka players joined in the appeal, but the umpire said he did not see it, and gave not out. I knew I had deflected the stumps. I didn't walk, and ended up getting a hundred. I recall it being a very cheeky thing.
The most memorable Ranji match
I can't look beyond Tamil Nadu beating Mumbai (draw with first-innings lead) in Mumbai in 2009. The match started at 9am, and by 11am TN were five down for just 50 runs. Mumbai were a champion team, and we went on to get 501. It resulted in one of the sweetest wins for Tamil Nadu. I clearly remember Tamil Nadu were struggling and I went on to hit a double. C Ganapathy, who came in at No. 7, hit a hundred. That was in fact Tamil Nadu's first ever Ranji win against Mumbai in Mumbai. First ever. To be part of that was something tremendous.
Favourite domestic batsman
I can say two: Wasim Jaffer and [S] Ramesh. Jaffer may not have been at his best last year, but when I was with Tamil Nadu he was at his best. He used to punish the Tamil Nadu seamers and spinners, and although I was in the opposition it was such a pleasure to see him bat. I could describe his batting as smooth as silk. Left-handers are always talked about being elegant. As a right-hander, Jaffer was right there. I was also lucky to share the dressing room with him at Vidarbha.
I also adored Ramesh. When he was at his peak, he opened for India. The way he used to leave the ball, and the shot he played off the hips was whoa! The ball used to fly off the bat. I used to wonder how he can flick the ball so gracefully.
Most challenging domestic bowler
I have not played a lot of cricket against L Balaji, who was my Tamil Nadu team-mate, but he was among the most difficult bowlers to face. He is also a source of inspiration to me. I played against him mostly in T20s. He was an intelligent bowler, who was always a step ahead of the batsman. He also had a lot of variations and read the mind of the batsman superbly.
Pankaj Singh also comes to my mind. He was one bowler who was always at the batsman over after over. He is tall, gets extra bounce, and he bowls long spells. He is more like a bowling machine. I relished batting against these two, though.