After a disappointing domestic season last year, Haryana have turned the tables this time around and have qualified for the Ranji Trophy quarters after a long gap of five years The squad this year wears a fresh look with young players and experienced players have played their part in the team’s winning run. In an interaction with the indianexpress.com, Haryana captain Mohit Sharma talks about the road so far, challenges ahead and his personal form after return from injury. Excerpts:
Haryana ended a long wait. How was it to qualify for the quarters after a long gap?
It has been a roller coaster for us. After finishing last in the previous season, we were really disappointed and felt something wrong in our luck. That very moment we realised that we have to perform well next season and after that only we had this in our mind that we will make it into the semis this season. Hopefully, everyone has justified one’s role. We have had regular weekly and monthly camps with our focus on fitness both physical and mental. The motive behind the camps was to prepare the youngsters to play long games, with that in view it was necessary to motivate them and to improve their fitness. Also, having many U-19 players in the squad it helped me rebuild the team. Frankly speaking, great amount of support from Vijay Yadav, Anirudh Chaudhary made my work easier.
On the personal front, how has been your return to cricket after injury?
Firstly, injuries are a part of the game. They do take a lot of confidence out from you while you are away from the game but the eagerness to come back strong and deliver is something which kept me in the hunt. Other than that, if you look, Sanjay Pahal and Harshal Patel helped me from the other end. We bowled in partnerships. On one side Sanjay and Harshal restricted the batsman from scoring runs, I succeeded in getting breakthroughs. And if Sanjay and I restricted the batsmen, Harshal had his moments too. This not only helped us take regular wickets but never allowed building up of pressure not only on bowlers but fielders as well.
How satisfied are you with your rehab and comeback?
I give credit to the physical therapy I underwent. It proved to be instrumental in my rehabilitation. I was impatient to return to the game, but the pain was intense and I needed extra emphasis. This is where the therapist helped me recover quicker and the fullest.
For the first time neutral venues are being used, what do you think about this move?
As a player, I have welcomed it. Our job is to play. It is surprising people are complaining about it, but according to me it is a good move coming from the governing body. Surely, It offers opportunity to the players to play on different pitches. It will help the players knowing their strengths and weaknesses. Even in International level after every game we move to other pitch, so this bold move has given a chance to players to adapt to different wickets.
Are you in touch with the Indian team management after your return?
Not exactly. I’m not in touch with any of the selectors, however, we get regular updates from them regarding the fitness tests or any camp arranged for us. We ourselves have busy schedule so it becomes difficult to be in touch with them.
Current crop of seamers are doing well. Do you see this as a threat to your comeback?
No, i don’t see this as a threat. In fact I feel happy when I see them (Shami or Bhuvi) perform. Well there is a kind of satisfaction when your friend is continuously performing well. However, there is a tough fight for a place when it is about representing the nation, and with everyone improving one’s skills it has become tougher fight to earn a place, let it be any format. However, three of us are good friends, may be on field and off-field as well. Infact we share a strong and healthy off-field relationship. We have known each other for over a decade and have been playing together being team mates since U-19 team. So despite the competition, we help each other to improve other’s skills. Bhuvi and Shami, who have been regular members in Tests, they happily guide me and tell me the kind of pressure they go through while playing the longer format as you are more open to the injuries. I learnt from them as to how to keep your body fit as the longer format soaks out a lot of energy from the player.