The 29-year-old strokeful batsman, who was among the 30 World Cup probables before missing the final cut, spoke in an exclusive interview.
You were part of the 30 World Cup probables but did not make the cut. Any disappointments?
Not really! I see things practically and I also have to realize that I made my one-day international debut only one series before the World Cup, so there are no hard feelings. It is still a learning curve for me and I’m looking to sharpen my skill sets and get better with each game be it a domestic or international game.
How exciting was it to make your ODI debut against Sri Lanka?
Donning the India colours is an honour and I was really excited taking the India cap from assistant coach Sanjay Bangar. I just wanted to enjoy my first international game without getting jittery about it and it went off well. It was a big moment for my home state Maharastra as well.
You scored a quick-fire 20 off 24 balls. Memories of that brief knock.
I was feeling good about the way I was batting and should have finished the game. Captain Virat Kohli later told me to imbibe the habit of finishing the game as it can be beneficial to me as well as to the team. The pep talk from Virat will surely help me in the future.
Tell us a bit about the Indian dressing room atmosphere?
Well, it was quite vibrant and I really felt comfortable mingling with my teammates. Every team member made me feel comfortable and there were no nerves when I strode out to the field.
Having made your ODI debut, is Test cricket your next target?
Test cricket is the ultimate thing for any cricketer and I really wish to someday wear the Team India whites. Opportunities will be there and all I have to do is to remain consistent and grab those opportunities.
You have been scoring consistently in the domestic circuit over the past few seasons. Do you think that has really helped you to be on the national selectors’ radar?
Absolutely! Consistency is the key. I have this knack of getting promising starts and then getting out which was not helping my cause. I have worked on this facet and the results have been satisfying.
There was a line of thinking earlier that you are getting those sizzling thirties, forties and fifties and then getting out playing reckless shots.
True. I was looking good to play the big knocks and all of a sudden I would play a rash shot and get out. If you look at my stats, you will see that I have got more consistent towards building my innings rather than throwing my wicket away after getting in.
You have played the IPL for three franchises – Royal Bangalore Challengers, Kochi Tuskers and Delhi Daredevils. How has the IPL helped you as a player?
The IPL is a great platform for any upcoming cricket and it allowed me to grow as a batsman. I got the opportunity to face some of the world’s top bowlers – an exposure which has served me well.
Who is the most difficult bowler you have faced in your cricketing career?
Dale Steyn. He has pace, swings the ball both ways prodigiously and can be a lethal customer at all times.
How do you assess the standard of domestic cricket in India?
I think it is getting better and better all the time. Pitches have improved in leaps and bounds as there are too many bowler-friendly decks unlike many years back when batsmen used to dominate the bowlers. We now have third umpire for Ranji games which is really nice and facilities have been exemplary for the players.