'I am living a dream right now'
If being inspiring is a measure of leadership skills then Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is comparable only to charismatic American President Barack Obama, feels all-rounder Praveen Kumar.
"He is the Obama of cricket," was Praveen's reply when asked what makes Dhoni a special captain.
Lauded for being cool and composed in trying match situations, throwing his weight behind players he believes in and for trying the unconventional, Dhoni's leadership has rarely been criticised since he took over in 2007.
Obama, who became the first Black President of the United States, is widely seen as an inspirational leader and Praveen considers Dhoni no less influential as far as Indian cricket is concerned.
The 24-year-old bowling all-rounder, who will be playing in his first World Cup, is naturally excited although there are a few butterflies in his tummy.
"I am living a dream right now. World Cup is no ordinary event and we will play in our country. The level of intensity and excitement will be of different level. I can't really wait to get into the thick of things," Praveen said.
Image: Praveen Kumar and MS Dhoni
'The preparation has been good'
'PK', as he is fondly known in the cricketing fraternity, is currently undergoing a rehab programme at the National Cricket Academy for his injured elbow, which cut short his tour of South Africa.
"I am feeling pretty good now. The rehab programme is on the right track and hopefully I will strike a good rhythm before the tournament starts."
Asked about India's chances at the cricketing extravaganza, Praveen said, "The quality of cricket that we have produced during the recent times makes us the favourites. Look at our team, we have such world class players. The preparation has been good. Hopefully, we can win the Cup."
For the new ball bowler, England will be the other team to watch out for during the tournament.
"England has also put up some consistent performance of late so one can expect a good show from them," he said.
Image: Indian team celebrates after picking up a wicket
'Adjusting your line and length will be the key'
Praveen, who relies more on his ability to move the ball both ways, admitted that the adjustment of length on the dusty sub-continental pitches will be key to success for the medium pacers.
"Obviously when you play in South Africa or Australia, you can hit back of length but on Indian pitches where the ball keeps low, you have to vary your length according to the situations. The more variations you can use, the better it is."
He didn't forget to mention the amount of guidance he has got from the likes of Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra.
"Zaheer bhai and Ashish bhai have always supported me. They have guided me in pressure situations and have come up with some really useful tips," Praveen, who has taken 57 wickets from 48 ODIs, said.
Image: Praveen Kumar bowls during a practice session
'I know my capabilities as a batsman'
For someone who comes from a family of wrestlers, his uncle being a Bharat Keshri, Praveen is known to use the long handle to good effect but has underperformed as a batsman.
"I know my capabilities as a batsman as I have opened for Uttar Pradesh and India A. But if you have a look at our line-up, we have some class players. However, I will be more than happy if I can contribute with the bat too," he said.
Image: Praveen Kumar