Q. We are told you have been helping the needy people during the lockdown. Can you shed some light?
A. I think it is the duty of the “privileged” to come forward during these difficult times. To be honest, I did not do anything big, it is that I belong to a family that has been putting efforts like these. During the pandemic, I saw many people who were struggling for necessities like food, water, and shelter; it was disheartening to see them struggle. We started a camp on NH24 and started 6 kitchens that went on for 62 days.
Q. Rohit Sharma said that you are the most difficult bowler to face in the nets, why?
A. I believe that when you go for the nets, you should think that you playing in a real match. I bowl my heart out at the nets; maybe this is a reason because I do not give batsman any liberty. Many batsmen come to me and ask me not to ball short-pitch deliveries.
Q. How do you see your transformation in your career after 2017-18?
A. Sometimes, you have run to get to the platform, while as at other times, you have to be there at the platform to catch the train. I was scared to lose the platform in 2015-16 post my injury. However, I promised myself to give my best. And after 2017, I strategised things seriously — made my fitness chart, cut my diet, and did every minute thing I could do to improve myself. I took all the process slow and steady so that my body would not be adversely affected.
Q. Tell us about Virat Kohli and his captaincy, and how crucial is it for a captain to handle bowling?
A. Virat has tremendous abilities. His will-power and the amount of spirit he puts in the game distinguish him from others. Moreover, the captain has a very crucial role in the field and I strongly feel that as a bowler you need the backing from your captain, regardless of who he is.
Q. Do you think to ban on ballshining using saliva will create difficulties for the pacers? And what is your take on the game post-COVID?
A. It will be difficult but you have to follow the rules and we have to prepare accordingly. Regarding, IPL or the T20 World cup, I am ready for both. It is good to know that cricket is resuming, especially in Asia. It will also give a lot of entertainment to the viewers at home!
Q. What was the reason for you to leave UP and come to Kolkata?
A. It’s a very old story. About 17 years ago, I went to Kamla Club Kanpur for state trails. I went to the final round thrice but was not selected. So I gave up playing for UP and went to Kolkata. I played Kolkata Leauge and Kolkata has given me everything since. I owe a lot to Bengal.
Q. Your debut was a dreamer’s joy. Can you enlighten our readers with your experience?
A. No doubt, it was a dream come true. I was lucky enough to share the dressing room with Sachin pa. I bowled my first ball to Sachin, and honestly, I was under a lot of pressure. Post the net-session, Sachin came to me and put his hand around my shoulder and talked to me about my bowling. Those moments are unforgettable.
Q. Your video, wherein you were deadlifting a 158-pound barbell, went viral. Is deadlifting a part of your training routine?
A. Well, (laughs) it was my brother who posted the video. Our family is very concerned about fitness. You can see how we have prepared the ground here. We have good facilities like NCA. My brother also plays cricket so I train with him and my nephews. As a family, we share the moments of joy and despair, in unison!
Q. Another video showed your front-foot defending abilities. We thought you just liked to hit the ball harder?
A. We were playing onebounce-out, wherein if a ball bounces once after hitting the bat, and the fielder catches the ball, you are given out. And when you play inside your house, you can only defend (laughs).