After a stellar show in the domestic season, Jharkhand and Kolkata Knight Riders batsman, Ishank Jaggi speaks to IndianExpress.com ahead of the tenth season of IPL about his growth, return from long-term injury, MS Dhoni’s guidance and much more. Excerpts:
On late entry in the IPL auction
I was more keen to be part of the IPL and was not in a position to choose a team. As a matter of fact I was not part of the initial list and it was added only after my performance in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Of course, I was very frustrated and surprised by my name’s absence from the list, despite my performance in all formats in domestic cricket. Earlier also I was with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Deccan Chargers (now defunct) but never got an opportunity to play. With Deccan Chargers, I at least had the opportunity to be in the company of international players and see them playing. During that period, unfortunately, due to knee injury and back problems, I could not really play or perform. During those two years with the company of international players, I tried to understand and improve my skills and prepare myself to be able to compete at this level.
On Kolkata Knight Riders and Gautam Gambhir
After a break of four years, KKR has reposed confidence in me and selected me. It is satisfying that finally I’ll play IPL. It is Gautam Bhaiya, who had seen me playing during the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy, and showed confidence in my game. I credit my comeback in the IPL to him. Obliviously and surely, I shall put my best and stand to his expectations and justify his faith in me. MS Dhoni has taught me to have an attitude to finish the game, and not to give up till the last moment, which I’ll try to execute it for Kolkata this season.
On progress as player
It is how well the team performs rather than individual’s performance. I had been scoring runs for quite a few years but after our team performed well, we succeeded in reaching the semis of Ranji Trophy (though we should have gone ahead). This helped me get myself noticed and people started looking at me differently. After waiting for 6-7 years, I got my first call for India A for the one-off Test against Bangladesh. Cricket is indeed a team game and not an individual sport. It is not fair for the team to rely on one or two players. Players, however, should try to score every time he gets opportunity and exhibit consistency. I have always played with an objective to finish or win the game, while Dhoni taught me to think from point of view of a finisher. This has always been on my mind
On injury and loss of four years of cricket
The prolonged injury adversely impacted my growth chances, with knee and back injury I was unable to run or exercise and it frustrated me because my plans to improve my game with different strength point of view. I was unable to play and put my best. Lately, I got time to rehabilitate myself with the help of physiotherapists and made myself fit to play. Unfortunately, despite being ready for any game, I was not getting chance to play. It was really very frustrating. I was not getting opportunity to prove myself. However, I always looked at Shikhar Dhawan and Kedar Jadav, who had to wait for the opportunity. Both of them had to struggle and prove themselves. Shikhar had to score runs before his entry into the Indian team. I decided to keep playing as a professional cricketer and put my best and perform. I was sure I shall get what is due to me and get opportunity at a right time and it was satisfying that I was in a position to deliver when I get a chance. And now I see those four years that have taught me a lot, have made me mature and improve my game, it is very consoling.
On Dhoni’s involvement in Jharkhand ODI team
The team’s performance has improved considerably in the last two years. We players now have a ‘Team First’ attitude rather than individual performance. With presence of Dhoni and coach Rajiv Kumar not only junior players have performed, but as a senior member of the team I have been benefited by learning how to carry yourself, how to extract best performance from teammates and how to back your juniors. Both of them offer opportunities for the junior players like Ishan Kishan, Virat Singh to improve their game and skills.
On Dhoni as mentor
Presence of legend player like Dhoni always inspires and helps you in the moral boost. To be very specific he is a very calculated player and his advise is always of great help. He is someone who plans things on the field and is always spontaneous.
It is ‘Mahi bhai’ who has inspired many youngsters from Ranchi and Jharkhand. He has been a role model for many players from that area. Today whatever Jharkhand has achieved it is all because of his contribution and involvement. The stadium which we have now also has his contribution. He made sure that the stadium has all the amenities and should not lack anything. He loves the sport so much that he believes whatever he has achieved today is because of cricket and thus we should respect the game and should return it back. If you spend time with him, you will realise that he is so down to earth, humble and easy to approach. And that is why he is a ‘legend’.