Our last season  did not go as well as we would have liked. I knew there was a possibility [of getting the captaincy]. So I thought I will take the opportunity and bring the best energy to the table and take things forward and make an impact.
Talking about Punjab Kings, the success the team owners and management have wished for has not come yet. Of course I understand their feelings, and you have to take that in your stride. But communication is the key. When we are building a side, we make sure everyone - players and support staff - is on the same frequency and marching towards the same goal. That's in our hands - to make the preparation and process really strong. Then it is all about time. The reward will come.
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When you become captain, a lot of responsibilities come on you - you have to think of the whole team, how to keep the atmosphere good. I did not need to tweak too much because even as a player, I always mingle with the group easily. That has been my nature and it has benefited me as a captain now.
I was only captain for half a season for Sunrisers. The difference now is that it's a new beginning. In the Indian team, I have been captain for three to four series, so there is a sort of a brotherhood now. Everyone knows how things go on, what to do, so there is a comfort level. I want to do the same at Punjab Kings, so that we reach that comfort level as soon as we can. It always starts at the top. I already have a good bond with the boys. I am very, very positive that it will be an amazing journey.
My presence of mind, my smartness, my decision-making. As you play more, you get confident in the decisions you take. Earlier, there used to be instances where I would give an extra over to a bowler out of regard [for him]. But now, as I have matured, even if someone is feeling bad, I will take a decision that will help the team.
I still feel that you should be given a full season of captaincy. If I had known that I was being given the captaincy for only half the season, I wouldn't have taken it. I was not performing as a batsman, so probably they might have felt I was under pressure. In my mind I felt that it doesn't matter, but I accepted their decision at the time.
Absolutely. Suppose, I am only focusing on the result, then I am creating an expectation ki yaar mere ko achieve karna hi karna hai [that I have to achieve it no matter what]. But then what happens is that if I am doing well, I will feel really good, but if I am not, there will be a heaviness, that desperation. That will make you feel under pressure and you won't be able to perform at your peak, no matter who the individual is. Whereas, when you are at ease, you are creative, you make the most impact in whatever you are doing. That's the mantra I use. That is the process part.
I knew I had to work on my strike rate. Even last year , my strike rate decreased a little, but I had to play an anchoring role because virtually all our main batsmen at Punjab Kings were aggressive.
It totally depends on the situation. If the wicket is not easy to bat on, then playing aggressively makes no sense. Also, I don't believe the role should be allotted to one batter because then there is pressure on the guy at the other end. You have to be very flexible. In the situation, you know whether to do it or not. Last season while playing for Punjab, if I had [Liam] Livingstone or Bhanu [Bhanuka Rajapaksa] at the other end, they were batting so fast, I felt it did not make sense for me to match them. At that point it felt like it [Dhawan playing the anchor] was appropriate for the situation. Then there are times when both batters hit from both ends, so neither feels it's dependent solely on one. At the same time you might want to play deeper and make runs, but the strike rate needs to be good in T20.
Jobs come and go, no worries. Humne khaali haath aana hai, khaali haath hi jaana hai. Yeh sab to yahin reh jaana hai [We come into the world empty-handed and leave empty-handed. All this just remains here]. I don't feel any fear about losing the job.
Yes, I rely on data quite a bit because I do not watch a lot of live cricket. Like, now I am going to New Zealand, so I'll be watching their bowlers and utilising that data as part of my preparation. As a captain, I will watch the opposition batsmen's technique to understand what shots could come easy to them, after which I can sit down with the bowlers to brainstorm. Preparation is the key for anything.
When you play music on a string instrument, if the string is too loose, it won't sound right, or if it's too tight, it will break. So it is a question of creating a balance. [As a captain] creating that balance is very important. You need to understand when to pull the string tight and when to leave it a bit loose. That is an art. It is a matter of timing. At this stage I also understand when to say things to the players and how much to say. If a bowler gets hit, it's important to know when to speak to him. I will not do it when they are hot in the head, but instead approach them later and speak with care. It also depends on the level you are leading at. If it is at the IPL, most players are mature, so you need to consider if you have to pull the string or not. At Ranji, you have to, at times, shown firmness, because a youngster at that level is like a kaccha ghada [an unbaked clay pot], so you have to be firm to mould him. Finding that balance is the key.
Hmm, I haven't thought of that so far (laughs). I have only led India on three or four tours and my stint so far has been pretty good. Wherever I am leading, an emotional bond is very important. When you have that, ladke jaan maarte hain aap ke liye phir [players will give their everything for you]. As a captain, being open, keeping my ego in control, having humility, showing compassion, is the key for me.
I remember even last year people saying Punjab Kings had a very strong and balanced side, at least on paper. This time we will be strong both on paper and on the ground.
We can learn from our past and improve on our mistakes. Other than that, I won't dwell much on anything else and neither will I want my team to do that. There is no need of dragging back the past baggage.
That I am (laughs). I have played finals with Mumbai [Indians], Sunrisers and Delhi. Now I am with Punjab. I definitely hope we play the final and win it. After that, it is malik ki marzi [God's wish].
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo