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'It is always great fun playing with Virat'

By HARISH KOTIAN
June 11, 2020 09:57 IST
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'He is someone who picks up what the bowler is trying to do, he is always there in your ears on what the bowlers are trying to do.'

IMAGE: Parthiv Patel with RCB Captain Virat Kohli during the 2018 IPL. Photograph: BCCI

Parthiv Patel has been one of the most consistent players in the IPL for many years.

So no wonder, that despite changing several teams in the last 12 seasons, Parthiv continues to be an important member of any team that he signs up for.

He played under Mahendra Singh Dhoni at the Chennai Super Kings for the first three seasons before moving to the Kochi Tuskers and then Deccan Chargers, both of whom are no longer part of the IPL.

The wicketkeeper-batsman was then bought by Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore at the 2014 IPL Players Auction before he was traded to the Mumbai Indians the next year.

Parthiv was instrumental in the Mumbai Indians's IPL title triumphs in 2015 and 2017 when he scored 339 runs and 395 runs respectively before RCB promptly brought back him at the auction ahead of the 2018 season.

Last year, Parthiv enjoyed another good run with the bat in the IPL. Partnering Virat Kohli at the top of the order, he amassed 373 runs at a strike of 139.

The concluding segment of Parthiv's three-part interview with Rediff.com's Harish Kotian:

You enjoyed one of your best seasons in the IPL last year. Was it fun opening the batting with Virat Kohli?

That is something which I have been working on: I have been working on my hitting skills. And that is what I was doing before the lockdown started.

As I said, I am in a good shape; fitness has helped me.

I have been enjoying my cricket. I have been enjoying the kind of freedom I have.

RCB is the right set-up for me in a way; you can just go out there and have fun.

It is always great fun playing with Virat.

He is someone who picks up the length early, he is someone who picks up what the bowler is trying to do, he is always there in your ears on what the bowlers are trying to do and that is very helpful.

And when you are batting with Virat, the kind of shots he plays, it boosts your confidence also.

You have made quite an impact in T20 cricket, especially in the IPL. What changes have you made in your approach?

I have been working hard on my T20 batting, on my T20 skills, on how to bat against different kind of bowlers.

You have to evolve as a batsman, that is very important.

You have to study a lot which bowlers bowl what kind of deliveries to you; so you practice accordingly.

Hitting doesn't come naturally to any batsman, you have to work hard on it.

Whether you want to be a defensive batsman, you have to work hard on it. The same goes for T20 batting as well.

It's not just about hitting the ball. You got to keep working hard and make sure you practice enough. That is exactly what I am doing on my T20 batting.

How do you maintain that balance between evolving your batting for the T20 format and still keep that defensive aspect of your batting intact for the four-day or five-day format?

It is about changing your mindset very quickly, it is about adapting to the situation.

When I play red ball cricket, I try and stay as calm as possible and play as technically straight as possible, just minimise the risks.

I know I can play all the shots, but I minimise my options and try to stay at the crease for a long time. So it is just a change of mindset.

Would you say someone like Adam Gilchrist changed the way wicket-keepers were looked upon till that point of time?
Previously they were judged mostly on their wicket-keeping skills, but when Gilchrist came onto the scene, wicket-keepers were judged on how effective they could be with the bat.

I wouldn't say Gilchrist changed the perception, but, definitely, a lot of young wicket-keepers started to look up to him as an idol. I did too because he was a left-hander and also a wicket-keeper.

You can say that every team started expecting their wicket-keepers to score runs like Adam Gilchrist.

Rishabh Pant

IMAGE: 'Rishabh Pant is someone who can be a superstar,' says Parthiv Patel. Photograph: Albert Perez/Getty Images

The role of wicket-keepers has changed in the T20 era. They are expected to score quick and be very safe with the gloves.
There is no compromise on either facet when you are playing franchise cricket, like the IPL, where only your performance matters. Isn't it?

That's how it should be.

I personally feel the wicket-keeper should be your all-rounder.

That role changes in Test cricket a bit, but when you are playing in the shorter format, the wicket-keeper is your all-rounder.

He should be scoring runs; there is no doubt about it. What's the use of just a wicket- keeper in a T20 or One-Day game? You would want him to score runs.

I want all wicket-keepers to think that they are all-rounders. You have got to work equally hard on your wicket-keeping and your batting.

Your opinion on K L Rahul being used as a wicket-keeper in limited overs cricket for the balance of the team in place of a specialist wicket-keeper?
You faced something similar when Rahul Dravid was handed the wicket-keeping gloves during your time.

KL is a short-term arrangement. He definitely has wicket-keeping skills, but I feel he is the short-term arrangement.

What would your advice be to Rishabh Pant who has fallen out of favour in Tests as well as limited overs cricket?

The same thing; nothing changes!

Everyone is talking about you because you have talent, otherwise no one would be talking about you.

You have the talent, you have the ability, it's just about clicking at the right time.

Maybe this lockdown could help him to think a lot of things about his game. I am sure he has the ability.

Pant is someone who can be a superstar.

So I will tell him just have fun, enjoy the game. Don't take too much of pressure and the keep working hard.

There is another wicket-keeper in Sanju Samson whose stylish batting has impressed everyone at the domestic level and in the IPL.
Somehow he has not been able to make it count in the few chances he has got at the international level.
Why do you think he has not been able to make it count? What changes does he need to make?

Sanju is a fantastic batsman. The only thing I want from him is that I would like to see him do more wicket-keeping in the Ranji Trophy.

If you are getting picked for the Indian team as a wicket-keeper, then you should be keeping for your state team.

KL has been picked as a wicket-keeper because he has been keeping for Karnataka in white ball cricket.

If Sanju is not 'keeping for Kerala, then I don't know what selectors think.

If I am in the position, then I would like to see him do more wicket-keeping for Kerala.

Wriddhiman Saha

IMAGE: Parthiv Patel rates Wriddhiman Saha as the best wicket-keeper in the world. Photograph: BCCI

Wriddhiman Saha has battled hard to keep his spot in the Test team with his splendid showing with the gloves. He has also played some gritty knocks with the bat. He is someone who is under-rated and never gets his due...

Exactly, that was the word I was going to use, that he has been under-rated as a batsman.

He is an outstanding wicket-keeper, I have no doubt about it.

I agree with everyone who says that he is probably the best wicket-keeper in the world.

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HARISH KOTIAN / Rediff.com
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