Devendra Pandey: When you were younger, the matches were shown at the Mumbai Press Club near the Chhatrapati Shivaji terminal. As a cricket fan, you used to climb trees to watch the games. Can you tell us about that experience?
Anything to watch a match! At night my roommate and I would try to watch the games. It was a really fun time for both of us. Now when I play, I put my all into the game. I could also see the floodlights of Wankhede. And I always dreamed that, God willing, one day I would play there. That thought was always there. When I did play there, and especially when I scored a century goal there, those childhood memories came back to me. It motivated me to do even better.
I didn’t think that far ahead, whether I would play at Wankhead (laughs). I just kept working, knowing that one day I would get there.
Venkata Krishna B: What was it like for you, growing up in the IPL era, to have a thirst to score balls even in red-ball cricket. And how do young players adapt to all three formats now?
It’s very important for me because I’ve always played with the red ball. I liked it a lot. Mumbai cricket has such a heritage that wherever you play, even if it’s school or club cricket, there are games that last three, four or five days. You hear that people score more points in those games. When I played cricket at school, I thought that whenever I went out on the field, I would try to score big, because that’s what I was instilled in Mumbai cricket. I always told myself that if I set my mind to it, I had to make sure that I would do it with a swing and take responsibility for the team. That’s why we really like red ball cricket. Playing in a longer format helps me improve my mental toughness, which is very important because you’ll be tested in different situations against different bowlers. It’s a lot of fun. Overall, I’m trying to focus more on cricketing strokes. It doesn’t matter what format I’m playing in. It matters what kind of strike I take and how I take it. The only thing I think about is how I build my pitch.
Sriram Veera: We heard that you are a fan of Hollywood actress Kate Winslet. When was the first time you saw her movie? We also heard that you sing the famous song from the movie Titanic (1997)… Do you sing before the games?
I watched that movie a long time ago. I don’t remember it. I just like her acting.and that’s it. There’s a line in the song: Every night in my dreams. I think of that line when I want to achieve something. I just like to listen to that line and that song. That’s all.
Sriram Veera: Do you have any favorite Bollywood songs?
Aashayein from the movie Iqbal (2005). When I was a kid, I used to watch Iqbal a lot. I love this movie; it’s a motivational movie for me. The lesson this movie teaches is that nothing is impossible if you trust your abilities.
Sriram Vira: When you watched the illuminated Wankhede Stadium from a tent in Maidan, did you ever dream of playing there?
I never thought about it. I was very young then. But in the back of my mind I knew I had to play. I’m still the same, deep down I know I like cricket, I love the game and I want to play it. That’s it. I didn’t know when or where my dreams would come true, but I have to keep moving forward. In the true sense, no one knows, so there’s no point in pondering it. I’m going to keep trying. I never thought I would ever hit 13 balls of 50, but I did.
In my cricket career there have been several events that I never thought about, but I’ve always followed the process. I kept practicing, I was consistent. I followed my nutrition, my fitness and my sleep regimen.
I think family is also very important, and I have to take care of them and provide a better life for them. I don’t worry about the outcome. I don’t get upset if I don’t succeed at something, but at the same time I don’t get carried away by success. I think it’s a long process, and I have to learn over and over again. My parents say the same thing. They keep reminding me that there is still a lot to do.
Sriram Vira: Last year, Rahul Dravid said he was concerned about the money teenagers were getting from the IPL and they should handle it properly. How do you handle your finances?
To date, I manage myself very well. First, I trust my decisions. Second, I try to spend on the things I need. For example, I need good food, a good house for my family. I won’t say that I don’t spend enough, I do, but not on something unnecessary. The main thing for me is cricket, that’s what I focus on. I think I have got a lot of support from Rajasthan Royals on this issue. They manage me financially, the franchise tells me how I should invest my money. Оnor take care of my finances so I can concentrate on cricket. I am very grateful and have immense respect for all the franchises that do this for their players.
It also depends on the person (relationship). I’ve been playing IPL cricket for the last three or four years. I’ve seen all sorts of things, I know what to do and what not to do. I have experience now too, and I’m trying to make fewer mistakes and just want to focus on my game.
Sriram Veera: Name two items of expenditure, one of which you made for your family and the other for yourself.d, for yourself out of IPL money?
I had only one thing in my mind – I wanted to buy a house in Mumbai. I had lived in many places in Mumbai. I always wanted to have a house where I could live with my parents, brothers and sisters. I spend on basic things, I don’t have big desires. I want to keep my future and focus on the game.
Sandeep Dwivedi: Everyone knows your background. There are those who want