India opener Mukund focused on capitalising on his chances

“I have the opportunity to do something in this Test. I don’t want to think about the next Test. Being the first-choice opener or second-choice opener, doesn’t make a difference. When you get a chance in the middle, I want to capitalise,” said Mukund after his fluent fifty on Day 3 of the first Test.

Indian batsman Abhinav Mukund plays a shot during the third day of the first Test match against Sri Lanka at Galle International Cricket Stadium.   -  AFP

 

Abhinav Mukund is a sporadic presence atop the Indian batting tree. Ever since his Test debut in the West Indies in 2011, including that game, the opener has played just six matches before getting another chance here during the first Test against Sri Lanka. In the first innings, Abhinav was dismissed for 12 but he made amends in the second dig, scoring 81 and sharing a vital partnership with his skipper Virat Kohli.

 

The Tamil Nadu southpaw, a prolific batsman at the domestic level, spoke about being patient for a comeback, the phase he wanted to quit the game, and the agony of dropping Australian captain Steve Smith on 37 in the Pune Test, earlier this year.

Excerpts

Not being the first-choice

I have the opportunity to do something in this Test. I don’t want to think about the next Test. Being the first-choice opener or second-choice opener, doesn’t make a difference. When you get a chance in the middle, I want to capitalise.

Brilliant fielding, improved confidence

The catch (Niroshan Dickwella) and the run-out (Upul Tharanga) did give me a lot of confidence. I have worked hard in the off season. I wanted to improve on my close-in fielding and also my batting. I was quite disappointed it didn’t come off on the first day, but then it happens. How much ever you work hard, sometimes you get out. I came back stronger the next day. I have had a decent day but I am disappointed to get out on 81.

Dropping Steve Smith

I was quite disappointed after the Pune Test because I dropped a sitter off Steven Smith. I wanted to do well because I wanted to be a specialist somewhere. In the Indian team, it is very important that you be a specialist fielder somewhere. I worked a lot with (fielding coach) R. Sridhar. He has been a great asset. He made it mandatory that we take a certain number of catches everyday. Also the fitness aspect as well, it is important that you are fit to stand under the helmet for 70-80 overs, so a lot of credit to S. Basu (fitness trainer).

The dark days

There was a point of time when I was hesitant to even put on whites. I wasn’t part of any team, I was dropped from my own first-class team. To (now) have this opportunity to be part of the Indian team is such a huge bonus.

The Galle pitch

When the ball got old, there was assistance for Dilruwan Perera. There was turn towards the end of the day. There are a couple of balls that are skidding on. I think there will be a lot more assistance for R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in the second innings.