Bist foot forward

Rajasthan's Robin Bist wants to play for India

With legends like Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman hanging up their boots, the famed Indian middle order suddenly has spots up for grabs.

While a number of players have staked their claim, none have been able to establish themselves with the exception of Virat Kohli.

These are big boots to fill and Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Cheteshwar Pujara and Yuvraj Singh have found it tough to provide the solidity which existed when the ‘ fab’ four — Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Ganguly and Laxman — guarded the Indian middle order.

But Rajasthan batsman Robin Bist — who amassed more than a 1,000 runs in the Ranji Trophy last season and followed it up with a ton in the Irani Cup — feels it is an ideal opportunity to seal a place in Team India, now that places are up for grabs.

“ I think it is all about how you perceive the situation. The boots are obviously huge to fill, but you can’t put undue pressure on yourself by thinking about what they did for Indian cricket. It will take years before someone can replicate their feats. I like to look at the positive side and feel that with the stalwarts retiring, an opportunity has come to prove our mettle and stake a claim in the Indian middle- order,” Bist told MAIL T ODAY from Mumbai.

“ Personally I have looked to stay at the crease for as long as possible and score as many runs as I can. The selectors have obviously taken note and I feel the performance against Rest of India in the Irani Cup where I backed my first innings hundred with a fifty really helped my cause. I like to stick to the basics and hopefully my time will come soon,” Bist, a part of the India A squad to play England in the warm- up game starting on Tuesday, said.

Although Bist was a part of the Indian Premier League ( IPL) franchise Delhi Daredevils, he didn’t get to play a single game.

But he feels getting to interact with veterans like Virender Sehwag and Mahela Jayawardene was an experience in itself.

“ I was definitely disappointed that I didn’t get a single game in the IPL — as it’s the best platform for young talent. But then the Delhi squad boasted some of the best in the business and breaking into that team is no mean feat. Upset as I was at not getting a game, I got a lot of time to interact with Sehwag and Jayawardene and that was a blessing in itself.

“ While Viru bhai ( Sehwag) spoke to me about being fearless and playing every ball on its merit, Jayawardene told me to keep things simple and bat according to my strengths. Speaking to players who have excelled at the international level always helps,” Bist said.

Sehwag, on his part, had high praise for the Delhi- born Rajasthan batsman. “ Someday he will definitely get a chance to play for the country because you cannot ignore performance,” he had said.

In the modern game, it is no longer only about batting and bowling, but also about the minutes spent working on fitness and Bist appreciates this fact.

“ During the off- season, I worked a lot on my fitness as I feel that in the modern game being a good batsman isn’t enough. One also needs to have a fit body to endure the rigours of the hectic schedule that cricketers have to go through nowadays.

Also, I feel being fit adds to your confidence when you are in the middle,” he said.

Not easily satisfied with his performance, Bist wants to make amends for his lone failure this season — in the Duleep Trophy where he failed to notch a fifty in two matches— in the India A match against England.

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