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Murali Kartik: On the comeback trail

Murali Kartik is back with a bang. Playing against the visiting England team in Hyderabad on Thursday, Kartik impressed even his opponents with his flight and turn. The young left-arm spinner said, in an exclusive interview to CricInfo, that he was happy to be back in action after a long lay-off with a back problem.

On his comeback to first-class cricket:

The Board has been gracious enough to send me to Adelaide for treatment. After coming back from Australia, I have been playing in all the local tournaments like Buchi Babu, KCA and Moin-ud-Dowlah, which incidentally used to be the yardstick for selection in India. I have had good outings, and, by God's grace, the Ranji season has also been very good so far. It is nice to be back, and the fact that the selectors think that this guy is fit and bowling well augurs well for me.

On his exile after his Test debut:

I actually left it and did not think much about it. It is a fact that every young cricketer has to go through before he finds his feet in the team. Maybe something like what Srinath had to go through, sitting out most of the games. Luckily I have never sat out and have been out of the side after whatever I did against South Africa. It is ok, it is part of life, and you have to take it with your chin up. Cribbing does not take you far; it is just a question of bouncing back.

On his much-talked-about temperament:

I would say that I have always been a soft and gentle person off the ground; it is only when I am on the ground that I play it tough. When I played the Test matches, stalwarts like Ian Chappell, Ravi Shastri and others said that this guy has a great attitude. I remember Kapil paaji talking in a team meeting. He said, "I have never seen a player with such an attitude towards the game in my 20 years of international cricket." Coming from such a big man, it was a great thing for me. I have been like this over the years, and I have not mellowed down on the ground.

On being told that national selector Madan Lal had much confidence in him:

Till now I got the feeling that I was not fit, because that's the way things have been going. People are calling me asking me whether I am fit. It is great to be back and playing, especially when you know that the selectors do not have anything against you when it comes to fitness. I just hope it carries on.

On his performance against England on Thursday, playing for the Board President's XI:

You tend to improve with the years. You do not find any subtle changes, it just that it happens to you when you are on the learning curve. You do not feel it, but it just happens. I feel that the ball is really coming out of my hand well, and I was the only guy to be congratulated for having bowled well. It really feels nice; even though it is nothing to get elated about, the fact remains that you feel nice about such things.

On the current England team in India:

I got the three leading English batsmen today: Nasser Hussain, Graham Thorpe and Mark Ramprakash. I think it should be a good series; these guys have done well and they have won two series in the subcontinent against class spinners like Saqlain Mushtaq and Muttiah Muralitharan. You cannot take them lightly; they have players like Thorpe, Ramprakash and Marcus Trescothick, who play spinners well. I would not say that this is going to be an easy series for anybody - no series is easy - but it should be a very good series.

On the art of left-arm spin:

I rate Venkatapathy Raju very highly. I looked up to him when I was a youngster. People like Maninder Singh and Bishen paaji were also there for me. So has Raju; even during the camp before the Australian series, he had only good words for me. When you can compliment a fellow competitor, it only goes to show the character and nature of the man.

On the other departments of the game:

It is just that I had one off-day today, putting down that simple catch (at gully). I have been taking good catches in the slips, and I feel that I should apply myself more when it comes to batting. It all boils down to the application factor. When you know that you have played a few shots, you should not get carried away.

India has not had a steady left-arm orthodox spinner for a while now. Kartik surely has to be the answer to that; he definitely has the ability and, above all, the attitude to succeed at the highest level.