In an exclusive chat with TOI, he discusses his love of speed, his preferred form of layoff, his India dream and the tips he got from SRH bowling coach Dale Steyn.
When did you realize you had this God-given ability to bowl fast?
I realized that in 2018 while playing tennis ball cricket. Whenever a Punjab team came to Jammu they would call me and I would win the game for my local team. After that, I competed in the Jammu and Kashmir U-19 team’s trials and was selected. I practiced regularly with (Abdul) Samad (his teammate from J&K). Samad Bhai helped me a lot. He sent my bowling videos to the Sunrisers. SRH hooked me up as a net bowler and then I made it to the XI which was a proud moment for me. Then I played matches and performed.
What attracts you to speed?
If someone tells me I’m bowling too slow toh mere jazbaat jaag jaate hain (my feelings come to the fore). I’ll start bowling faster.
They sent the batsmen’s stumps flying in this IPL. Is this the form of layoff you enjoy the most?
Yes, I love castle batsmen. I also love hitting batsmen on their helmet. First, I feel like I beat the batsman with my pace, and second, once the batsman is scared, he doesn’t try to hit you.
You did too Shreyas Iyer uncomfortable with your pace and hit Hardik Pandya on the helmet. Most batsmen back off the stumps toward you…
That is good for me ki woh mere ko peeche khel rahe hain (Batsmen retire from stumps). My goal would be not to get hit from there. I want to keep them on the back foot.
What kind of conversations did you have with bowling coach Dale Steyn?
He teaches us a lot. It’s so good for us to have a legend like him in our dugout. When his plans work out, he feels very lucky. Like in the last game, he was very happy because our plan worked.
People say you’ll be making your India debut soon…
God willing. My goal is to play for India and do well.
How’s it going under SRH Captain? Kane Williamson?
He’s a very good captain. Even as a bowler, when you’re hit for a four or six, he’ll ask you, “Are you happy?” When the captain supports you like that, there’s nothing else a bowler wants. It strengthens you and allows you to come back with a bang.
They have a raw tempo, but variations are needed in T20s at some point…
I will gradually develop all deliveries. I work on slower ball and knuckle ball.
Irfan Pathan helped you when he was the mentor of the J&K team…
When I was in the J&K U-19 team, there was a camp of the J&K Ranji Trophy team that Irfan Bhai ran and our team trained there. I had already bowled in our training session. However, when I saw such a great former Indian player, I was prompted to ask him: “Irfan Bhai, can I bowl too?” I hit one of the J&K batsmen three or four times on the leg, pad and thigh pad. Then Irfan Bhai asked me my name. At that time I was having a pop out problem on start up. Irfan Bhai worked on me in this camp for about 10 days. He took an extra hour each day to work on me. He guided me further and my journey started there. I kept talking to him and sending him my bowling videos. He always gave me his feedback.
Are you aware that your raw pace has caused quite a stir in the global cricket fraternity?
I’m from a small town but I feel like everyone knows me now. The best thing is that the SRH franchise has been very supportive to me. I was a net bowler. They played me and now everyone knows who I am because of them.
There is hardly any cricket infrastructure in J&K…
We used to practice on cement. Then, after Samad played in the IPL, we trained at the Jammu Science College home ground, on the middle wicket turf. The J&K Cricket Association had two turf wickets. We used to practice there. Now the cricket infrastructure in J&K is getting better and better.
Do you think you can bowl faster?
I’m trying! God willing, I can bowl better too.
Who Was Your Pace Bowling Idol?
Mera idol main khud hi hun (I am my own idol). I have been inspired and learned by observing (Jasprit) Bumrah.
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