I was really pleased to be back in the IPL again. This is something which you don't want to miss out, as an Indian player. Usually I play county cricket, but last year because of Covid-19 I missed out on that. When you love playing this game you want to play it. And when it's IPL you want to be part of it. It is one of the best leagues in the world. Yes, playing for the Indian team is a different thing entirely, but when it comes to being part of the IPL, any cricketer would want to be part of it. I am no exception.
It's like every other year where I feel that I just want to put my name. And when I get an opportunity, I will be up for it. Deep down I know that I can do it.
See, it's not their fault. It is not about getting hurt. I feel that it is about being ready for the opportunity whenever it comes. They don't know whether I'm good or not good, because in last few years I haven't been seen playing T20 cricket. For example, if someone hasn't played any Test cricket in last four or five years, you can't say he is good or bad because he hasn't played. So just by seeing the way I play in Test cricket you can't pass judgement about whether I'll be good or not be good at the shorter format.
"When your thought process or your environment is about cricket, then it is just about adapting to the format"
Absolutely. I'm really pleased that what I've done for the Indian team is noticed and I got results for that. I was told when I was picked, all the franchises clapped [in the auction room]. I feel that when you are doing something for the Indian team, people love it, they know the value I bring in. Not just the franchises, almost all my [India] team-mates were really happy for me. Last few years I'm the only one who has been missing out [on playing in the IPL] from the Indian team.
Ha! I can't speak it, but I will start learning few words for sure! As for the cricketing culture, people love cricket - it hardly matters whether you are playing Test cricket or you are part of a T20 set-up.
I have played this game for such a long time and now I don't need to, and I won't, take any pressure for sure. I'll enjoy my game. And I've already done some preparations when I was at home [in Rajkot, after the England Test series]. I started playing different shots, which I enjoyed.
Absolutely. It all comes with experience. When I was playing the T20 format in the past, I had a little bit of a worry that what if I my Test cricket gets spoiled? Then there will be some technical error once the IPL gets over. But now I am over that. What I realised over a period of time is my natural game, my strengths, will never go away.
I definitely think so, especially the way the white ball travels. It is just about making the mental change. I feel that mentally if you are ready to make some adjustments, you don't need to take a lot of pressure. In Test cricket there is a lot of pressure, there is a price on your wicket. But in the shorter format you just need to express yourself and play all the shots you can.
I am very flexible now. And one has to be in this format. There was a time where players used to choose [their role], but now players have changed, their roles have changed, and the most successful are the ones who are very flexible in the way they do things.
"You need to get better at generating power, but ultimately cricketing sense is your main strength"
See, if given a choice I am someone who can contribute in the top order, whether it is opening or playing at No. 3 or 4. But that's something that I can't say at the moment. I will have a chat with the coaching staff and Mahi bhai [Dhoni] about what is expected of me. At this stage it is too early to say anything, but if I get to bat in in the top order whenever possible, I'll be more than happy. But as I said, one has to be flexible. I'm not at a stage where I should be demanding.
Things have changed from the past, so the expectation or my role will be defined once I interact with everyone. Experience from the past always helps, but I can't say how much because I'm again new to the set-up and starting this format after some time.
The stability, the cricketing sense - to read the bowler, to understand the bowler, to understand the situation. It is something I have learned by playing the Test format, and even shorter formats.
(Smiles). Well, [he has] a unique way of looking at things. He is successful because he is fearless. And he has to bat the way he knows - by assessing the situation, and if he thinks he can do that, then then why not. He can only be successful backing his own strengths. He is very instinctive. And he has to stick to that. Everyone including us in the dressing room was stunned, but that is something unique about him. If he can pull that off again and again, there is nothing wrong.
Never! I can't do that. I can't do that (smiles). Going over third man [by reverse-scooping] as a right-hander is tough. Going over fine leg, that I have tried.
The scoop over fine leg against a fast bowler. Even in the IPL I have done that. At least three or four times. I remember getting a four that way when we played in Dubai [in 2014].
"Just by seeing the way I play in Test cricket, you can't pass judgement about whether I'll be good or not be good at the shorter format"
Yeah, you have to. What you use in Test cricket and what you use in IPL has to be a little different. Not a drastic change. Some of the bats will be slightly heavier than what I use in the Test format. My Test bat is about 1160 grams. Here [T20] it is about 20-30 grams heavier.
It's basically a change of mindset. You need to be fearless and you need to work on a few areas of your game to be successful in T20.
Yes. I remember Fleming's century [134 not out] against South Africa in the 2003 World Cup. It is one of the best ODI innings I have seen. It looked like he didn't take too many risks, but he was still going at a rate where it looked like he was in a different zone.
Not just this format, even in Test cricket the demands have changed. I have figured out that it is not just the fielding, even my fitness has improved a lot. There is a correlation: when you improve your fitness, it helps you get better at your fielding. In those two areas there is no end to getting better. In batting you can reach a milestone and be satisfied, but in fitness there is no set milestone. You can assess yourself by doing the 2km time trial or the yo-yo test, but you can always still progress in your fitness. And the same applies to fielding.
First goal is, CSK should qualify for the playoffs whether I play or don't play. As an individual I want to get better at this format, learn as many things as possible and be confident. I am trying out a few things in my batting, which I want to discuss with the coaches and Mahi bhai and keep working on that so I can get results, which will be the most pleasing thing. I am not a person whose expectations are too high. I am a person who wants to put in whatever efforts I can.
Not really. I am very confident now and that is because of Test cricket. That confidence comes from my hard work and I just want to do the hard yards right from my first net session. You have a lot of pressure in the Test format, and the overseas tours are the most challenging. So when you have been part of that, I don't think there is any nervousness [about playing in the IPL]. There will be a different kind of pressure: to play this format, to chase successfully. There is a different challenge to this format.
No, it's not. You should not be worried about the outcome. You should be doing the right thing to be successful - whether you talk about hard work, discipline, dedication. When you are ready to do that, stick with that, the outcome usually [takes care of itself]. I am focused on what I have to do as a player.
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo