I knew that I won't get to play during my first season at SRH because there were many star bowlers like Bhuvi [Bhuvneshwar Kumar], Siddarth Kaul and Khaleel Ahmed. I just looked to learn from Bhuvi, who is very calm, and I worked on my inswinger with [Muttiah] Muralitharan sir for two years in 2018 and 2019. I used to discuss about scenarios that you face in a match situation and try to learn from those.
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I just wanted to focus on my fitness and be ready to give my 100% when the chance came last year. I might have felt the pressure if I had made my SRH debut in India - I'm not too sure. With no crowds in Dubai, I just focused on doing the best for SRH in that particular scenario.
I knew I would get hit if I erred with my length. Even if I miss it by inches, these batsmen are power-hitters who can hit it for a six. In a small ground like that, any batsman will be confident of hitting a six. Sometimes even if they mishit, the ball will go for six. I was just clear that I couldn't miss my length.
I pitched one in the slot and he hit me for a big six - 102 metres or something. The next ball I got his wicket [and didn't celebrate] - I was just thinking about that previous ball. After coming back to the dressing room, though, I was happy. After finishing the match, I also had a chat with him. Speaking to somebody like Dhoni itself is a big thing. He spoke to me about fitness and encouraged me, saying that I will keep getting better with experience. He said, use slow bouncers, cutters, and variations like that. It has been useful for me.
Definitely. On one side there was my girl and on the other side, I got that wicket in an important knockout game. Romba santhosham [I was extremely happy], but I didn't really tell the others [about the baby]. I thought I will tell everyone else after we win the game, but my captain [David] Warner spoke about it, I think, at the post-match [presentation].
Haha, yes. I never thought I would be picked for the Australia tour. I was just ready to go back home after the IPL.
I can't describe it! Santhosham oru varthai thaan [Happiness is just one word] and I don't know how else to describe it. My people and my friends all motivated me so much to reach this place. Coming from a small village to being selected to play for India… they were also very happy. A lot of people now know about my village.
My wife [Pavithra] told me that she and the baby [Hanvika] would wait for me. She asked me to win the trophy and said that they will be ready to welcome me back home after it.
Whenever I practise, I've been working on trying to bring the ball back in, but in some situations I don't want to try something extra and bowl it on leg stump and give four. If I miss it, again it will affect my confidence, but it's something I've been working on. I want to practise harder and bowl the inswinger perfectly in match situations. Muralitharan sir has helped me with this and even [L] Balaji has worked with me on the inswinger at Tamil Nadu. He has shared his experiences and I also ask doubts to him and I have become a better bowler with their inputs.
After I left the ground and reached the room, my friends back home sent me videos of them bursting crackers after I got the trophy. From coming from a village to get the trophy from a legend… again, I was very happy. I had happy tears at that time.
It was great to make my Test debut with Washi. He played a superb innings under pressure and he played well in both innings to help us win the match. The experienced bowlers were injured and most of us were youngsters. The Gabba has a history and I've heard that it can be a challenging wicket against Australia. In the end we felt like we had won a World Cup.
This time I had a sponsored bat, not Washi's (laughs). When I was with Tamil Nadu, it was always Abhi [Abhinav Mukund] anna's [brother's] bat for me. Even when I was playing in the IPL earlier, there would be team bats and I would use them if I needed to bat.
I didn't expect it at all. The Covid rules were there, and I had come from Australia, but I was just told to get on the chariot. I thought there would be around 500-600 people there at my village, but people from Chennai, Kanyakumari and other districts of Tamil Nadu had come. There was even someone from Kerala. I never expected that something like this would happen in my life.
It's slightly difficult (laughs). I don't think I can roam around like I used to previously. It's a new experience. When I am in my village, I don't prefer being alone. I'm always surrounded by my group of friends and Jayaprakash anna [his mentor].
I've been telling her. Now after the baby was born, she has stopped working.
Yes, it was always my dream to groom talent from my village, that's why me and anna [Jayaprakash] wanted to run an academy in my village and not in Salem city. I managed to make it to higher levels of cricket, so we just wanted to run the academy to give the boys motivation that they can also come up and become professional cricketers.
Playing continuously for six months across formats is difficult for anyone. It's more difficult for a bowler. I also bowled at the nets and I have to thank god that my body withstood that load. Even if you are fully fit, a small sprain or something can turn into an injury. But I enjoyed those challenges and those six months were like a dream for me. It gave me so many experiences. Travelling and playing together with the Indian team is a big thing for me.
I know I will have to do the job 100%. I will have to focus on not missing my length and have a clear plan for that scenario. If I miss my length, I am aware that I will be taken for runs. I have bowled under pressure in the past, so all of those experiences will help me this season. Bhuvi
I haven't looked that far ahead. When the opportunity comes in the future, I will think about it. For now, I'll keep doing whatever I've been doing to stay fit and perform well for my team.
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo