"If you had played [video of] that ball to me at the start of the tournament, I would have thought I'd just got my third hundred for the IPL."

Ashton Turner smiles wryly when recalling the incident. His Rajasthan Royals team-mates applauded from the dugout; he smiled; opponents Sunrisers Hyderabad laughed - it all seemed like one jolly moment. Except, it was more relief than joy: Turner had scored his first runs after a sequence of five ducks in a row in T20 cricket - a format he should have been acing with his big-hitting, quick running between the wickets, and cricket smarts. In the IPL to that point, his record had read: three balls, no runs, three times out.

Turner is more phlegmatic than most, and therefore perhaps better able to deal with the rollercoaster that is professional cricket. He's sipping a coffee as we speak, dressed in a T-shirt and shorts. He has the look of someone who has practised Zen meditation, and radiates calm - quite unlike what you might expect of a man capable of the kind of destruction he wrought less than a fortnight before IPL 2019 started, with a power-hitting finish for the ages in Mohali.

That 84 not out off 43 catapulted Turner into the reckoning for the World Cup. But in Australia's subsequent five-ODI series against Pakistan in UAE, he didn't get a single game. He could have strengthened his case in the IPL with a good showing, but the three first-ball ducks in a row put paid to those hopes.

"There is one side of my brain that rationalises everything that's happened to me," Turner says. "I've come in in some tough situations, late in games. I've played some selfless shots, I've played some poor shots as well. I know that I'm a better player than the three balls that I faced at the start of my IPL career.

"But there's also that irrational side of your brain that is running rampant and starts to doubt everything that you've done. Even though I knew I was playing well in the nets, hitting the ball nicely, and I feel like my game suits the situation and conditions, even then, picking up my bat to face the first ball, I felt like I'd forgotten how to hold the bat.

ALSO READ: From bits-and-pieces allrounder to finisher - the rise of Ashton Turner

"I guess that's a lot of pressure, and I'd never been in a situation like that. Probably the first time I've ever doubted my ability. But I felt like once I got that first run, I had a massive weight lifted off my shoulders."

Now that the gorilla is off his back, he is eager to repay the faith Royals showed in him. "I didn't have really high hopes about getting picked up at the auction," he says. "I knew there were lots of good players, and limited spots available. It was a really nice surprise to wake up to.

"I feel like I have a duty to repay the faith that Rajasthan had in me. There's not many players who can get three first-ball ducks in a row and still get another opportunity to play. I've been overwhelmed by how supportive they've been of me."

One of the key aspects of Turner's stint with Royals is his association with Steven Smith. "He's so humble about his own game, but at the same time he's really willing to sit down and talk about the reasons why he has been so successful," Turner says. "I've been fortunate that as the two Australians in the team we have spent a lot of time together, lots of meals together, had a drink together. We're both learning the guitar together.

"It's obvious that he bats differently to anyone else in the world," he says of Smith. "Sometimes I'd ask questions on the lines of 'Why do you do this?' and quite often he'd say, 'Why not?' Just because no one else has done it before doesn't mean that we can't do it.

"He's got such a broad horizon. He doesn't rule anything out. He's not flustered at all by what anyone else thinks, through good or bad times. He's batting in his own world. I've learned some great lessons about having the confidence to bat my way and not like anyone else."

Who's the better guitar player of the two?

"It's probably a dead heat for last place between us," Turner laughs. "And our singing skills would come in just behind our guitar-playing. I feel sorry for anyone whose ears have to be exposed to - I'm not even sure we can call it music - the 'sounds' that are coming out of our room."

It's bittersweet that Smith is part of the reason for Turner missing out on a possible World Cup spot for Australia. Smith, of course, would have always slotted straight back into the team when his international ban ended, but that also meant one middle-order batsman had to go.

"The day that we found out, I went to him straightaway and said, 'Well done, mate, for getting in the squad' and he said, 'Commiserations for not being in the squad,'" Turner says.

He makes it clear that he doesn't see himself and Smith as being in competition. "He's a superstar in my eyes.

"That's professional sport. It's ruthless and it can be tough and relentless at times. For all of that, it can be an amazing game and present amazing opportunities. Last couple of months I've probably had the highest highs and the lowest lows as well. I am appreciative that I was even in the conversation to be part of that World Cup squad. It didn't go my way, but I can't blame anyone but myself.

"I didn't play any of the games in the five-match series against Pakistan in the UAE, and we won it 5-0. Everyone played well, batters and bowlers. It's really hard to drop players who are in good form and playing well, and you add to that two world-class superstars [Smith and David Warner] coming back in - that's going to put pressure on two of the batsmen's spots.

I did see the writing on the wall, to an extent, but that doesn't mean that the phone call I received from the chairman of selectors wasn't a really disappointing one. I've been a fan of Australian cricket for as long as I can remember. I've got so many great memories of watching World Cups from my lounge room. To think that I was even in consideration to play in one for my country, I'm still pinching myself a little bit about that. But realistically, being a bit limited with my shoulder and what I can contribute outside of my batting probably cost me an opportunity to play in the UAE series. I'm going to have surgery [on his troublesome right shoulder] in a couple of months. Missing out on the World Cup squad has only motivated me more to want to get back there, because being a part of that Australian side was such a great experience. That's where I want to be."

Turner's right shoulder has already been under the knife twice, and it's still not at the point where he can turn his arm over for his part-time offspin or be a gun in the field.

ALSO READ: 'AT was incredible' - Reactions to Turner's 84

"I've had a couple of operations before but the results haven't been as good as we'd hoped. So I'm having a slightly different operation, which is probably a bit more sturdy than the one I've had before," he says. "I'll probably be out for three months after that and be ready for the Australian home summer. Lots of things were taken into consideration about the timing of the operation. I've known since Boxing Day last year, when I injured it, that I was going to have to get something done again. This is the best time for me to have it. And certainly the T20 World Cup and the home summer were high on the agenda of things I needed to be fit and available for selection for."

A fit and available Turner is capable of feats few are. He showed that against India in that Mohali innings, where he dismantled one of the world's best ODI attacks. He produced, among other things, a stunningly audacious walk-across, paddle-sweep for six against Jasprit Bumrah. "There are certain situations where I feel like that's a safer shot than it probably looks," he says.

"It doesn't always come off like that, but when it does is a really nice feeling. That night in Mohali might look like the first time I've been in that situation, but it's actually not. I've played a lot of T20 cricket and one-day cricket. I've been put in that position time and time again. There's been plenty of times I've failed. But for every time I've failed, there's probably been a time I've been successful. That gives you confidence that you can trust yourself.

"I've probably deep down always known I'm capable of playing like that. But it gives me a blueprint for situations like what I've been through in the last couple of weeks, when things haven't been going well. It's something I can go back to, try and channel what I was thinking then, the emotions I was going through, and take confidence out of that."

Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo