I started playing cricket, like many in Pakistan - in the galli and mohalla. The biggest influence from those days has been my elder brother Ata-ur-Rahman [not the former Pakistan fast bowler]. He had not played a lot at the domestic level, but he was a very good player. I started playing cricket after watching my brother.
"I bowl according to the conditions. Pace does not matter if you bowl at 140kph or 150kph. If you have pace, you can ally it with your skills"
In Pakistan there is not much in school cricket. I would escape from school a lot. There was one instance, around 2010, when my parents burnt my white kit because I was not focusing on my studies at all. My mom wanted me to become a lawyer, but I wanted to become a cricketer. I was always passionate about cricket. Ek junoon tha [I had a passion].
The one big moment in my young days arrived when I was 13. Bhai told me he would hit me for three sixes in an over. But I let him hit just one. As a prize, he gave me my first white shirt. I kept it for a long time before I lost it. He sacrificed a lot for me. He never bought spikes for himself. He would buy for me. He has always kept me positive.
I am short. Physically also, I am not imposing. During my young days, if I told people I was a fast bowler, they would not believe me. But when I bowled, they would nod their heads and say there is something in this boy. My strength has always been to work hard. Paijaan taught me that. I do not have big swing. Usually I have to bowl with the old ball, so my focus is to pitch on the same spot, hit the top of off stump.
Once my brother realised that I was serious about my cricket, he made me a pitch, in 2009. It is a cement pitch on which I practise even today. We made that pitch with our own hands. We dug the ground two-feet deep, put the concrete in and asked a bricklayer to polish it.
Overall, I gave 74 runs from my ten overs. Even as England batsmen were hitting our bowling to all parts of the ground, I was just thinking if I get another opportunity I will make sure I do well. In my first three balls I just gave one run and one bye. The next two balls to [Jos] Buttler were dots. The last ball he got away with a four. I did not mind. I knew Buttler is a power-hitter so I slowed my stock ball. The final delivery was a slower one too, but he managed to pick it.
I made my debut on August 18 against Ireland. Then we came to England, which was a tough tour for me. But I have always bowled without fear. I have bowled against some of the best batsmen, but if one thing I have learned over the years - and this once again has been taught to me by my paijaan - is never to be afraid of anyone. Tell yourself you are the best, have belief and stay calm. And never forget to work hard.
Amir bhai has come back after five years. He is still under pressure. He is one of the world's best bowlers. But he is struggling to get his performances. If I am performing, I should take the team forward. Tomorrow if I am down and Amir bhai is performing, then he will lead the team.
I play cricket as if I worship it. I always feel that I should not fall short in my plans. I want to play like a brave man, like a lion. Azhar bhai has played a very big hand in my success. He has taught me a lot about my role, about the bowling plans. He teaches me how to bowl. At times, you are not getting the outswing, inswing - who tells you about your grip? Who tells you where to pitch for this batsman and where to for another? Bowling, every bowler knows, but the way you plan with your coach helps you understand it much better.
"For the past few months I have not been eating rice and roti. Now I eat mostly grilled food. I am eating all these disgusting things that have no taste."
You need to take a lot of care of the ball. In modern cricket, if the ball does not swing, as we saw in this tournament, then chances are that you will be dominated. You need to utilise the ground conditions and look after the ball. The ball will be hit frequently to the boundary. You need to look at the shape, the lacquer, since the leather gets roughed up. You then need to understand how to retain the shine on one side of the ball.
Azhar bhai has played a very influential role in the reverse swing. He has taught us little skills that come handy. With a new ball, if the shine is on the outside, it will swing away. If the shine is on the inside, it will swing in. With an old ball, the leather starts wearing off on both sides, but on one side it is quicker. On the other side, there is still some shine that is what you need to work on. When you hold the ball, you understand whether it will reverse or not.
Eoin Morgan's. When I returned for the second spell, the ball was reversing slightly. My plan for Morgan was that if I could pitch on the same spot for three or four balls and put pressure on him by creating dots, he would 100% charge me. I was bowling outswing when he suddenly stepped out. I pitched it wide and he edged it, luckily for me.
In a five-match series, if your team loses four matches, you do feel bad and troubled. But if you feel down, you cannot perform in the next match. Always chin up, shoulders up. You are practising well and that means you can do well in a match. That is what you have to tell yourself at all times. Our team is still young and in the building phase.
It is definitely part of the team strategy. I am happy and ready to bowl at any point in a match. In the middle segment, the ball can sometimes take reverse swing, so I can utilise my strengths. I know there is pressure, with not many fielders in the deep, so the focus is on bowling stump-to-stump lines, reverse swing, when I can, and make sure I do not hit anything but the top of the off stump.
The ball was new and seaming nicely. Against Duminy, my plan was to pitch short of a length to deny him runs. But since he was waiting for that, I thought let me try pitching it fuller. I tried and he edged to slip. As for Parnell, it just pitched on the right spot and swung away. Also, I have been good at getting the left-handers with outswing.
Out karne ke bad yeh ek bomb hai jo phat jata hain [It's like a bomb that explodes as soon as I take a wicket]. I did not learn it from anyone. I just wanted to be different. I wanted people to remember me with that celebration. My hand goes down, then both hands come up and then I tilt my face upwards to thank the almighty. I started this celebration in the PSL.
When I joined Peshawar Zalmi, we also had Shaun Tait in the squad. I asked him when he bowled at his fastest. He said when he was about 22. He would just head to the nets and try bowling the fastest he could.
I bowl according to the conditions. Pace does not matter if you bowl at 140kph or 150kph. If you have pace, you can ally it with your skills. Recently, during the West Indies ODI series I clocked 146kph. Even in the Champions Trophy, I crossed the 140-mark a few times. It feels good when you bowl 145kph and people tell you "well done, good pace". It boosts you.
The biggest and most important thing is fitness. If you are fit, you can give your 100%, otherwise you cannot. You need to focus. You need to have a plan. You need to know what you are going to bowl. You need to understand where to bowl to whom.
I have almost stopped eating anything sweet. For the past few months I have not been eating rice and roti. I am eating all these disgusting things that have no taste. Now I eat mostly grilled food. Having come from a desi place, I have eaten different stuff from birth. Now, when I go home I tell ammi [mother] and bhabhi [sister-in-law] the few things I can eat.
The golden ball award is for him. Also, when I won the Man-of-the-Match award against England in the semi-final, it was for him as it was his birthday the next day.
Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo