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'Cricket is taking away my hair'

Losing hair, joining the army, playing in Australia, and being teetotal occupy the mind of the Delhi Daredevils opener

Nagraj Gollapudi
Gautam Gambhir and Simon Katich exchange words, India v Australia, 3rd Test, Delhi, 1st day, October 29, 2008

What do you use for your hair, mate?  •  Prakash Singh  /  AFP/Getty Images

What's the best thing about playing cricket for a living?
I play cricket because I love it. The day I feel I'm not giving my 100%, that will be the last day of my cricket.
Worst thing about playing cricket for a living?
You lose a lot of hair - especially when you are an opening batsman! Like [Virender] Sehwag, I'm losing my hair left, right and centre. Cricket has giving me everything but it is taking away all my hair.
Best friend in cricket?
Virender Sehwag, Munaf Patel, Amit Mishra and Ishant Sharma. People outside always feel I'm reserved, but when I'm with these guys I'm the only one speaking. I'm very comfortable with each of them and all of them are special to me.
Who's the nicest man in cricket?
Sehwag. He thinks about the team. The way he gives others confidence, his character, and the way he approaches his cricket and life is an inspiration.
If you weren't a cricketer what would you be?
The army remains still my first love. When I was growing up I was always passionate about joining the armed forces. But once I started doing well in domestic cricket and everyone started to tell me to focus on my game, that's when I decided to concentrate on my cricket. But given a choice, even now I would like to join the army.
What do hotel rooms need to make them more enjoyable?
If they can create a homely atmosphere, nothing like it.
Which ground has the most hostile crowds?
Some of the Australian grounds are nasty.
Which ground has the most amusing crowds?
I love playing in Mohali. I love the attitude of the local people and I enjoy that very much.
Which tour do you most look forward to?
Australia. Everything about the place, people, conditions is good, which makes it a hot spot. And you want to challenge yourself there.
What drink is the best one to celebrate a victory with?
I haven't ever tasted alcohol of any kind.
How often do your friends ask you for free tickets to games?
Very often. Given an option, every game they would like to ask for at least one ticket.
The best sledge you've heard?
One comment that made me turn a lot of things around came from Ricky Ponting during the Bangalore Test last year. He said, "You haven't [yet] set the world on fire." That was something I took seriously, and it helped me do well.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo. This article was first published in The Wisden Cricketer. Subscribe here