Although Abhinav Mukund is yet to get a long stint in the IPL, he has kept his head down and performed consistently well in domestic cricket.
Chennai: He is only 20, but has already played 25 first class games, scored over 2,000 runs, including a triple hundred and eight centuries besides four 50-plus knocks and averaging 53.52. Abhinav Mukund, the left-handed opener, is undoubtedly among one of the brightest stars in domestic cricket and the Chennai Super Kings acknowledged this fact by including him in the side for the Indian Premier League tournament in 2007.
Although Abhinav is yet to get a long stint in the IPL, he has kept his head down and performed consistently well in domestic cricket as if to remind the selectors of his presence by being among runs. He was part of the India Under-19 World Cup squad in 2008, but did not get to play due to poor form, but since then, Abhinav has blossomed forth into a quality batsman.
You have been performing well and it requires great amount of fitness levels and concentration. What have been your drills?
I am actually with the professional trainer, Mr.Basu. At this point of time, when you have to constantly play domestic cricket without much rest, you need to be very fit. Otherwise, it is very difficult for you to sustain at this level. It is a very important part. I think if you are going to be fit naturally, batting fitness also comes in to your mind because you have to spend long periods of time at the crease. Both physical and mental fitness play a big role in cricketers in domestic cricket.
You seem to be having strong self belief, but tend to take some risk while batting. Could you explain this?
I think it is a natural progress. I would not define it as a risk. Risk is when you have to take some tough decisions. I would like to make those situations too because it is a challenge to yourself, whatever you are doing. Without sacrificing anything, it is going to be boring. So, I would like to think of it as a challenge.
This year, you had had much more domestic cricket scheduled close to IPL as compared to the previous two years. Does it allow you maintain your focus and fitness levels?
It is good that we are playing lot of matches before the IPL. To that extent, it also eases out the preparation for 20-20, which is a fast game. It is good that we are playing one-day cricket as well (Deodhar trophy). Scheduling of these matches close to 20-20 IPL is good in that sense. I do not think that there is great difference between the overs format because you are staying in touch with your batting or whatever you are doing on the cricket field. Playing so many games before IPL is also a good test for your body and mind, if you are going to play IPL. I think if I get a look in, I will be able to prove that I maintain good fitness level and try to do the best of my potential.
Looking at your career (2007-08), you had played few international matches (against Sri Lanka) and in two matches, you scored close to about 400 runs. It took some time for you make the Tamil Nadu Ranji Team. Likewise, in IPL, you played two matches in the first year. How do you look at your chances this time?
It is purely the Management's decision when it comes to selection matters. I strongly think that I will be able to put up a good case if I am doing well in the games coming ahead. I had done fairly well in the earlier games this season. I was the second highest run getter there. My name has been coming up for past one year. I just want to keep doing well without concentrating too much on the selection matters. I am a big believer in the fact that if I perform well everything will fall in place. I will be more than happy to prove my mettle if the Team Management feels that I fit into their combination.
You must have played against both pace bowlers and spinners drawn from neck and corner of the country with utmost ease. Do you have in your mind any different set plans to bat against overseas fast bowlers if given a chance to be in playing eleven of CSK?
As far as my career has gone by, I had played only domestic cricket. I have played couple of games against touring teams. To face international bowlers it is going to be difference in speed and movement because of their experience also. I got to be really prepared for that. The 20-20 format being fast-paced, I got to think quickly as well. I think for players like me who are just breaking in to the scene, IPL is an amazing experience. I am really looking forward to gaining some exposure and experience.
What is your dressing room experience in the CSK squad?
I am willing to listen to whatever they (seniors and international players) say because they have been tried and tested in going through the intensity of tough international cricket. All of them are successful players at the highest levels. Obviously, the things that they do must be correct. I have always kept a keen ear to whatever they had to say or do. I have seen their practice routines. I have my domestic heroes as well in Badri, Vijay, Balaji and few others. These guys have worked really hard to be here. All these guys are definitely people whom you look up to. They have definitely have done the right things or they have gone through the system and come up because of their work ethics. Therefore, definitely I can learn from all these overseas and Indian guys.
Captains of teams always say it is a team work on its success. Do you consider individual performances do count?
Individual performances also count. There might be a situation that a batsman scores 100 or 150 and there might be a cricketer who was whacked while bowling but takes a catch to dismiss a top player. I think that is the beauty of a team sport because all the eleven on field are involved in its success. I definitely do think that individual performances count but it is more or less a team game.
There were occasions when you have scored 100 or so but the team lost. Do you attribute to reality and sort of a dejection set in your mind?
There is definitely a feeling of dejection, but one has to see the reasons for it. At the end of the day, you have to see the reality for all failures. You have to think more about what mistakes were there instead of thinking about the right things that you have done. One needs to learn a lot from the mistakes.
Is 20-20 or even IPL matches are more competitive compared to other formats of cricket?
I have not played that many IPL games to assess this. Any cricketer will put up his hand and say Test cricket is the most competitive. T-20 is no doubt very challenging because you need to maintain high fitness levels. Even though it is a short game, it is extremely draining on both your body and mind. You put in 100 per cent effort and 50,000 people are behind your back. I do not think that there are such high intense crowds in Test matches. You cannot compare T-20 with other formats. To me, Test cricket will be most competitive.
You must be waiting for March 14th to play at your home ground. How well you are prepared and focused?
I have definitely prepared well. I have got a lot of matches under my belt. I have improved my strength definitely from IPL one and two. I have grown older and stronger. I honestly think I will not get a chance in the first half of the tournament. If and when I get a chance, I think I should be able to do to the best of my ability.
Who is your role model?
The Wall. Rahul Dravid.