Pietersen inspires youngster Juneja

“Consistency is the most precious thing for a batsman, and I love the way KP plays. I have to get to that level. In T20s, especially, picking the gaps is the most necessary skill," he said.

Mumbai: Manpreet Juneja spent the last IPL season warming the bench for Delhi Daredevils, waiting for a chance to show his skills.

This year, injuries to their top batsmen have given the Gujarat lad a couple of games in the middle order, and while he has been guilty of not utilising those chances, Manpreet feels it’s a big step up for him in terms of a sense of belonging.

“After playing a couple of games, I feel like I belong to the team, rather than just travelling with it all over the country. It has helped me gel better with the senior players, and I have got the opportunity to learn more through conversations,” the 22-year-old batsman told MAIL TODAY. “Of course, Irfan bhai [Pathan] is a dear friend and I spent a lot of time with him during the Daredevils stint last year and during the domestic season. But I’ve also had good conversations with Kevin Pietersen and Mahela Jayawardene about the nuances of batting, which will help me grow.”

He may have played just 10 first-class matches, 19 one-dayers and 14 T20s, but Manpreet’s numbers indicate special talent. He averages 74.28 in first-class cricket with four centuries, including a double ton on debut, a one-day average of 40-plus and a T20 average of 37.10 with a strike rate of 146.64.

This sort of adaptability is of course very rare in cricket, and it’s no wonder that Manpreet has begun idolising England’s Pietersen, who is a master of all three formats.

“Consistency is the most precious thing for a batsman, and I love the way KP plays. I have to get to that level. In T20s, especially, picking the gaps is the most necessary skill, because by doing that, you will get boundaries and at the same time reduce the risk that comes with trying to hit sixes,” he said.

“What KP does is that when the rest of the batsmen look for singles and twos, between overs 7- 14, he takes the run- rate up to 10. I’ve done that in domestic cricket and the motivation has been to shape an innings like he does.”

Manpreet is willing to put in the hard yards to realise his dream of playing for India.

“I really like the way Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane have gone about scoring runs in whatever cricket they play, and my goal is exactly that. Whether I’m playing local cricket or for the Daredevils, I have to perform, because scoring runs is a matter of habit. Different formats require different skills, but the important thing is to stay positive, give 100 per cent effort and not want too much too early,” he signed off.


Reproduced From Mail Today. Copyright 2013. MTNPL. All rights reserved.

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