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Rediff.com  » Cricket » 'Very few people knew me before the IPL'

'Very few people knew me before the IPL'

By Aruneel Sadadekar
May 24, 2016 14:56 IST
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'I was a nobody two months ago. Now people want to see me play for India.'
'Isn't it a giant leap?'

IMAGE: Krunal Pandya celebrates Virat Kohli's wicket. Photographs: BCCI

Krunal Pandya was a rare positive for defending IPL champions Mumbai Indians in a dismal season, where the team failed to make the play-offs.

Krunal, 25, who shone with both bat and ball, was a contender for selection for the Zimbabwe series, but Krunal and his younger brother Hardik were not included in the India squad.

The Baroda all-rounder speaks to Aruneel Sadadekar/Rediff.com

How will you sum up your maiden IPL season?

It has been a dream season for me. I am disappointed that we couldn't make the play-offs, but at an individual level, I am extremely satisfied with my performance.

Mumbai Indians had bought me for a staggering Rs 2 crore (Rs 20 million) and I am happy to repay their faith.

Very few people knew me before the IPL and now I am enjoying the attention I get.

I never thought that even I will have fans (Laughs).

IMAGE: Krunal hits a six against the Delhi Daredevils.

What is your most memorable moment from this IPL?

First, the wickets of A B de Villiers and Virat Kohli. They are champion batsmen and in superb form.

Second, when I gestured to Hardik and Kieron Pollard after scoring a half-century against the Delhi Daredevils.

That knock has given me immense confidence and I was pleasantly stunned to see the crowd chant my name at Visakhapatnam.

You were seen flexing your arms to your younger brother.

The arms flexed were not for Hardik, but for Pollard. Pollard and I enjoy friendly banter. He always pulls my leg because I have a skinny body.

After those sixes, I wanted to show him that I have more power. (Laughs).

I also gestured towards Hardik and after the match thanked Hardik for staying by my side during tough times in my cricket career.

IMAGE: Krunal and Hardik.

Can you recall those tough times and how Hardik supported you?

It was really frustrating. I suffered a shoulder injury and was out of the game for a year.

Hardik's selection in the national team motivated me to keep up the fight. I still remember the day Mahendra Singh Dhoni handed him the India cap in Australia.

The relation between Hardik and me has become stronger after our success in cricket.

There were reports of you pulling Hardik's leg when he was dropped...

I read those reports on social media and they were all false. We are like friends and we pull each other's leg.

People portrayed us as rivals, but we are a team.

The dream is not to replace my younger brother, but we want to fulfill our dad's dream of playing together in the Indian team.

You were in contention for the Zimbabwe tour. But now even Hardik has been dropped.

Hardik knows that it is part and parcel of the game and every cricketer gets dropped. I have full faith in him that he will bounce back.

Yes, I knew that I was in contention, but seriously there is not an iota of disappointment.

Why should I be disappointed? I was a nobody two months ago. Now people want to see me play for India. Isn't it a giant leap?

Woh kahawat suni hogi aapne? Jitna late khelte hai, utna hi lamba khelte hai (You must have heard that phrase? The later you are picked, the more you play).

My aim will be to perform in the Ranji Trophy and other tournaments and stake my claim for national selection.

IMAGE: Krunal claims Quinton de Kock's wicket.

Your cricket style is very similar to Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel and Pawan Negi. Do you think it will be tough looking at this competition?

Why should I bother about the competition? My job is to perform on the field.

Selection is not in my hands, but what I can do is impress the selectors with my performance.

Hardik had mentioned that he is more of a batsman. What about you?

I don't judge myself as a batting or bowling allrounder. Whenever I am batting, the aim is to score runs and when I am bowling, I look to pick wickets. I have faith in my abilities.

Sunil Gavaskar feels you need to spin the ball more.

Like every player, I have weaknesses and I am working towards fixing them.

In T20s, the idea is to bowl flat. You will find me a different bowler in the Ranji Trophy.

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Aruneel Sadadekar / Rediff.com

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