Pawan Negi was the surprise pick of the Chennai Super Kings this season, featuring in as many as 10 matches in the season gone by. The left-arm spinner from Delhi speaks to The Indian Express about his experience of playing as a bowling all-rounder for the IPL giants and why he focussed more on his batting during the event. Excerpts.
How rewarding was it to play 10 matches for CSK this season? And was your focus more on your batting than bowling?
I won’t say that batting was my main focus but yes, I did practise it a lot in the nets. It helped me get runs at the bottom of the order in the first game and that helped me get a promotion in the next.
Did your bowling suffer due to this focus on batting (he scored 116 runs and took 6 wickets)?
I knew that I had to bowl just four overs and practised accordingly. My aim, like all T20 bowlers, was to be economical first and maybe even chip in with a couple of wickets. But unfortunately, it just didn’t work out that way in match situations. I was much better with the bat than I was with the ball.
As a spinner, was playing alongside R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja a blessing or a burden?
Not only them, I was playing under MS Dhoni. All three helped me a lot. In the match against KXIP, where I was bowling the first over of the game, I felt the pressure because I had never bowled with the new ball before. So Dhoni asked me to bowl like I would in the middle overs and not worry about having just two fielders outside the circle. His best advice was to ask me not to experiment with my lines and lengths. I followed it and finished the game with the Man of the Match.
I was also constantly taking advice from Ashwin and Jadeja. Constantly asking them how to manage pressure and what I should do in certain situations.
In CSK’s first game against Mumbai Indians, you were trusted with the ball at the death and leaked three sixes to Hardik Pandya. What happened there?
The ball was turning a bit so I decided to flight the ball, hoping that if Pandya plays across, he could offer a catch off the leading edge. But he played superb shots and I ended up conceding 19 runs and the match.
Immediately after you were hit for the second six, Dhoni had a word with you. Do you recall what he said to you?
He asked me to not to bowl so full as the ball was coming nicely on to Pandya’s bat. Nothing worked for me that day.
Was it a steep learning curve that day?
Definitely. I will surely learn to handle the pressure better the next time such a situation comes up.
Which bowler did you find toughest to face this season.
(Lasith) Malinga. His release point is so low that you face a lot of difficulty in picking him. And because it was the first time I was playing him, it was even tougher.
Did Dhoni have any special advice for you when you were batting together?
He asked me to face the ball and not the bowler. And he also asked me to treat the situation like a net session.
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