I genuinely enjoyed doing it. Watching all my friends play and commenting about them can't be such a bad thing. Most of the time I speak well of them, but sometimes I have a go at them, like saying what a bad shot they have played when I've probably played [shots of that kind] a million times before! That is the beauty of it. I share a great rapport with each and every one I have played this sport with, so I am very confident that even if I have a go at them, they will know I mean no ill. I could speak my mind. I thoroughly enjoyed the little time I spent with [Nasser] Hussain, [Michael] Atherton, David Lloyd, Rob Key, [Ian] Ward.
As a cricketer sometimes you tend to take opinions a touch too seriously. You are not as important as you sometimes think [you are]. It is not as bad as it sounds, sometimes. You need to take a chill pill as a cricketer and focus on trying to get better at your game. As a commentator you speak about so many things, and sometimes things don't exactly come out the way they are supposed to. So I have realised that [as a player] you should never think that people are thinking about you all the time and take yourself that seriously.
I had the privilege of spending some time with Mr [Sunil] Gavaskar. We had a meal, cut a cake. It was fabulous.
You keep evolving. You are not the same person you were at 21 or 22. You look at things differently - the way you play the sport changes, the way the sport is played changes.
I believe there is a middle-order slot right now, at Nos. 5, 6, 7. And I can slot into any of the three. For the top four slots, there are way too many players who have done phenomenally well and who keep batting in [IPL] franchises at that position. My specialty is that I can bat at five, six, seven and help India in setting up the best score possible or in winning games, which I did in the short while before the 2019 World Cup in the T20 format. The fact that I have played 150 games for my country is the experience I will look back on every time I play.
Look, at this point of time, we have Hardik [Pandya] and [Ravindra] Jadeja [in the lower order]. Otherwise you always try and fit somebody in who has batted in the top four in franchise cricket or for their states at five, six, seven. In an ideal world you ask a KL Rahul - he comes in at No. 5 in ODI cricket - where he likes to bat and I'm sure he will say "opener" because he has done it over and over again. It is a hard job for him [to bat lower] but he has done it with a fair amount of success in ODI cricket. I am sure he will get his opening slot very soon and he is too good to be stopped.
If you take this last IPL, in the game against the Sunrisers Hyderabad, it was a slightly low-scoring game. I thought it was a key innings [22 off nine balls] in the way we won the game - we won it by ten runs. The game would have looked very different had that small impact innings not been played. That's what I pride myself on. And you don't get the opportunity to play these impact innings every game; it comes every four to five games. So every time you get an opportunity like that, as a middle-order or lower-order finisher, you should be looking to do that. That's where the skill is.
Correct. I'm happy you brought up that innings - a different type, different situation, batting first so you are trying to set up a big score there. When a [Jasprit] Bumrah is bowling or when a Mitchell Starc or a Pat Cummins is bowling, you want somebody who has consistently hit in those death overs and made an impact there. Whereas you take a No. 3 or No. 4 batter, they come in a lot of times, they play the powerplay, more often than not they get set and if they are at the back end then they will probably score runs.
See, at Nos. 6 and 7, to be consistent would mean being consistent with strike rates. What's most important is the impact your innings create. You can't look at the scores per se because the amount of balls you face is very few. If you take the scores you will see they will be around 18, 22 not out, one game will be 4, one game will be 8, and then you make a 14 not out from four balls. So if your team is doing well, that means you are playing fewer balls a lot of the time, because the bulk of the batting is done by the top order. Then you create an impact as much as possible at the back end with as many balls as you get. Not every time that you walk in you are going to score runs, especially when you bat at the back end where you are expected to play the high risk shots right at the outset.
It was a calculated gamble. I have always been a top-order batter. All my career I batted at three and four for my state. When I played for the country, I batted at [those] positions and even opened at times. So when you move to the middle order you have to change certain aspects: you start focusing more on your ability to hit boundaries, your ability to think on your feet. These are the kind of things me and Abhishek [Nayar, personal coach and assistant coach at KKR] have focused on over a period of time. We have worked on my ability to hit a boundary in the first three or four balls I face, whoever is bowling.
Last year we sat down and discussed the times I got out early against legspin. These days the way they [wristspinners] have started bowling googlies is a lot different to what it used to be before. Previously you used to get to watch the back of the hand - now they have changed that. As a batter I have worked on that aspect to figure out what's the best way to counter it. This year, luckily, in the seven games I have played, I got out to [Yuzvendra] Chahal once, and in between I played a lot of legspinners and it was okay.
In a day game it is very different. You are able to see the release a lot more clearly and it is much better facing legspinners. But in day-night games you see a lot of wristspinners being very effective because most of the guys can't pick the googly. You have someone like Rashid Khan who has brought a certain difference in the way legspin and the googly is bowled [with his wrist position]. A few of the other legspinners have seen that and copied it in terms of their wrist position and the way they deliver the ball. The disadvantage of bowling with that wrist position is you can't spin the ball much - there is very little dip - with the googly or the legspinner. When you release the ball the new ways the guys are delivering, there is more topspin on the ball.
A little bit, initially. I don't want to delve deep into it. It was a decision I took then, but now with the way the scheduling is currently, suppose if Eoin Morgan and Pat Cummins don't come [for the second half of the IPL] - I hope they do come - and the franchise wants me to lead, I am more than happy and open to it.
Yeah, I think so. It would be a good thing. It would help a lot of players expand their games, get better. But it is a decision completely in the hands of the BCCI.
Yes, I am. I have already got a schedule where I am going to practise during my stay in England. I will be at 100% in case the call-up comes.
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo