January 2002: Tailenders - Quick Singles

'I'll eat anything'

Whose abdomen guard were you wearing when you got the groin infection in South Africa?
Yaar, I wasn't wearing anyone else's abdomen guard. I just got hit by the ball.

Newspapers said otherwise...
Trust me, I was there!

What's in a seam? We hear you like the SG?
A seam is a seam and bowlers have to learn how to use different balls. The Kookaburra's is slightly flatter than the other, but that's no excuse.

Is one of your fingers really dead?
Huh? Look, all of them are fine. Don't write these things, my family will get worried.

Are you the hothead people make you out to be?
Do you think? I haven't lost my temper yet, have I? Yes, there were one or two incidents on the field like the one with Ricky Ponting, but I was very young then.

Which is your most cherished dismissal?
Jacques Kallis with the outgoing delivery in the one-dayer at Centurion was special. But the most memorable was probably Steve Waugh in the second innings of the Chennai Test.

What's your favourite dish?
I love eating. I'll eat anything.

Is it true that you're about to get married?
Yaar, I want to meet the person who wrote that report. Marriage is out of the question for at least six years.

Who are your best cricketer-friends from other teams?
Hmm... probably Adam Gilchrist from Australia, Saqlain Mushtaq from Pakistan. Also Paul Wiseman from New Zealand.

What did Fred Titmus teach you?
Jaane do yaar. Let's skip this question.

The biggest six anyone has hit off you?
That has to be Chris Cairns at Wellington. Good batsman.

The batsman you are still waiting to dismiss?
Hmm... Sachin, if you put him in the opposite team.

Are you a better batsman than Muttiah Muralitharan?
Yes. And many others too. I don't know what happened with the bat in this series. Just wait for one more year and see.

Do you sledge?
A little, but generally I'm not the one to start it. I always give back. I come to play cricket and I won't take abuse from anyone... Australians or whoever.

Are you a good DSP?
(Laughs) I haven't done a day's duty yet.

Who would make the best police officer in the Indian team?
Sachin, but DSP is too small a post for him.

Don't go by his cricketing ability. The man has to save your life.
Uh... Anil Kumble. Or Navjot Sidhu. Actually, Zaheer Khan.

What's been your best practical joke?
I once called up Andrew Leipus and pretended to be the manager of the team. I told him to come for practice the next day in formal clothes, which he did, while the rest of us were in our training gear.

When was this?
I can't tell you because then the manager will know I've been imitating him.

Who's the best-looking woman in the world?
You mean my dream girl? The one I marry, I suppose. Sonali Bendre is very beautiful though.

What's the best compliment you've ever been paid?
Gilchrist said a few nice things on the day I got my hat-trick. The Prime Minister sent me a letter after the Australian series and that's very valuable to me.

What went through your mind when you were thrown out of the National Cricket Academy?
It was a very low phase. Five or six things happened together and I didn't know which way I was going. My father, who I was very close to, passed away. I felt I should take a job and get my sister married, cricket was not going well, people were writing me off as indisciplined... it was very confusing. Lekin Bhagwan ne mujhe waapas upar laa diya.

What is the best piece of advice you have received?
My father used to cite the example of a tree that, as it keeps growing taller, droops closer to the ground because of the fruit it bears. Similarly, the more you achieve in life, the more humble you should be.