India went into lockdown two weeks after you returned from the Under-19 World Cup as runners up. The final, where you took four wickets, was your last competitive cricket match. How do you look back at that result?
Chubhta hai [it stings], but you can't sit around and brood. I'm definitely still sad, but I'm only looking at the positives from the tournament. Experiencing what it means to play in a big-match environment was the main takeaway. Winning a World Cup is obviously massive, but if you can't achieve that, the second-best thing is to look at the positives.
Aren't you itching to have a bowl?
I'm filling my cricket appetite watching old World Cup and IPL games on TV. I can't wait to go out and do some real bowling once it's safe. I only bowled for two days after I came back. Since the lockdown began, we've only been indoors here in Bikaner. The academy I am part of is conducting fitness classes online. Rajasthan Cricket Association has divided teams by age groups and given fitness guidelines, and Anand Date, our fitness trainer, appointed by the BCCI, has developed some plans. But it's quite challenging, and we need to improvise. Not everyone has equipment at home, or the space, so it becomes tricky doing weight training. I've been using big stones or even the LPG cylinder as weights.
After India's defeat in the World Cup final, there was an incident between the two teams that you were also involved in, which led to suspensions and demerit points being handed out. Looking back, do you wish it hadn't happened?
It was all in the heat of the moment. We realised later that we shouldn't be doing all this. That maturity level has come. There's a lesson there. You cannot be short-tempered because ups and downs are part of your cricket journey. It has been a real learning curve for me. I just looked at that incident positively, extracted what learnings I could.
This IPL auction you were picked by Kings XI Punjab, where Anil Kumble is the team director. It would have been your debut IPL. Are you upset by the postponement?
I was very excited to have a platform like the IPL to prove myself and rub shoulders with some greats, but the world is suffering right now, so those dreams have to wait. And yes, I was looking forward to speaking to Kumble sir. That was my number one intention when the pre-IPL camp was first announced by Kings XI. I wanted to learn how to read batsmen and how to stay cool from him.
Which spinners excite you these days?
Among mystery bowlers, Sunil Narine, but when Rashid Khan, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal use their brains to get wickets, it excites me a lot. The way Chahal bowls slow and wide to reel the batsman in is fantastic, and how Rashid sets batsmen up by bowling legbreaks and then racing a googly in.
Like Rashid, you also use the googly a lot.
It's especially useful against new batsmen. Set them up with a few legbreaks and then drop the googly. Perfecting the googly takes time, though. My fast run-up, like Rashid's, is also important, to get that extra zip.
What have you been doing during the lockdown that you otherwise wouldn't have?
I'm not doing anything new, but finding joy in spending time with family. My sister's four-year-old son is here, so I've been playing with him. I even watched that documentary on the Australian team, The Test, and tried to approach it like a student. It was amazing to see how a broken team rebuilt itself. I got goosebumps seeing their coach [Justin Langer] pump them up and imagining the mahaaul [atmosphere] on the international stage.
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