There is an addition to my kit bag — a brand new bat which “talks” beautifully. Yes, it “talks”.
Most good bats do that. They make a good sound when they meet the ball and you know this is the one. I got this bat on Saturday when I reached Jaipur. It felt good at the first go — soft, willow smooth as silk, straight seven-eight grains like an eight-lane highway, and a bat with the balance of a perfect musical note. As always, I have named this bat ‘Rocky Balboa’.
There is a little story which I want to share. I generally carry four-five bats.
To categorise them, I name them ‘Rocky II, III, IV, V’ and the best one is called 'Rocky Balboa'. 'Rocky IV' and 'V' are also good and are used when — God forbid — something happens to 'Rocky Balboa'. 'Rocky III' travels with me to my room where I shadow practice whenever I feel like. 'Rocky II' is used in the nets but sparingly.
Growing up in the video cassette recorder days, I was always enamoured by the Rocky series. Maybe, I always love being an underdog, I am not sure.
Also, I don't know when and how I fell in love with 'Rocky Balboa' but that is the one I can watch again and again. Maybe, it is that quote that got me going about this sequel. It goes, "It ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done!"
My team, KKR, too have taken a lot of hits. But like fighters they have coped and kept moving forward. One of these hits was against the Royals last year in Jaipur. We lost to them by 22 runs and it galvanised us. We won the next game comprehensively against the RCB. Proud of you guys!
Twist of fate
Fate can be cruel sometimes. I am staying in the same room as last year.
Nothing wrong with the room but some of my team-mates never stop reminding me that I got a first-ball duck in that game against Rajasthan last season. We have fun about it and move on.
I like the feel of cities that are not metros like Delhi or Kolkata. They are more relaxed and things happen at their own pace. Another thing with Jaipur is that people wear colourful clothes. I like it that way and this also helps me in preparing well.
I took two hours to write this as I was signing autographs and meeting old friends, who called on me.
Yes, in between, I keep going back to my bat, 'Rocky III', tapping it, raising it and then a big follow through as if I have struck a flowing straight drive.