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Murali Kartik comes across as being a quietly confident man. Catching up with him at Bangalore where he is now stationed for the National Cricket Academy training camp, Murali offered to answer a few questions. The conversation soon veered to his performance in the Tests against South Africa and his cryptic comment was that "things could have been much better had things gone our way". He did not elaborate at first but when coaxed, he finally came out to say that " a few chances went here and there, one or two balls went over the stumps and so on".
He was in an upbeat mood about his forthcoming stint in the NCA, saying that "in this game you never stop learning, it gives us five months to train. International cricket requires that we have to keep physically fit.'' Asked whether he welcomed the competition from other left armers like Rajesh Pawar, Murali's analogy was that "in a 100 metre dash, if the other person weren't running behind, you wouldn't be surging ahead. In all departments of the game, somebody should be pushing you." His not being considered for the one-day format so far also cropped up. When it was put to him that the balance is tilted against the bowlers in the one-day game, he agreed but went on to say that "adaptability is the name of the game. I have done well in the one-day structure of our country."
I also asked Murali whether by playing for a lesser cricketing power like Railways in the Ranji Trophy, he was limiting his opportunities. His refrain was that "it spurs one on to do well in the limited games you get". Here's a man who likes to see something positive in every situation. Murali also pointed out that "we normally qualify for the Super League, which means eight games although I haven't been playing these eight for the last three years." Asked what he regarded as his most memorable performance so far, he said that "after graduating from the Under-19, I was looking forward to the Ranji Trophy. My first game was quite memorable, I took ten wickets in the match, six in the first innings including the hat-trick." The game Murali was referring to was against Vidarbha in 1996-97 and one would think that a hat-trick on first class debut is as rare as they get.
Among his goals for the next one year, Murali's foremost was to be an established player in the Indian Test team although he was also looking forward to being included in the probables for the Asia Cup. "But right now, my main aim is to gain peak physical fitness", he said. Murali signed off by revealing that he was also concentrating on improving his batting and we may well see him in a new incarnation soon.