The head-hunter from Karnataka is back. Indeed, Javagal Srinath was buzzing in the seven-match one-day series in New Zealand, bowling a mean line and the right length. Just one short of 300 ODI scalps at the end of the contests in Kiwiland, the Karnataka bowler would be gunning for glory in his fourth World Cup, an astonishing feat in itself for a paceman.
Excerpts from an interview with Sportstar:
You were brilliant in the one-dayers in New Zealand and consistency in direction and length was such a major factor in your success...
I tried to bowl in the channel and hit a length because that's the length from where the ball starts moving. If you pitch it too short or if you pitch it up the ball doesn't move. You have to keep it at the right place. The conditions were helpful and they probably helped me take the ball away from the right-hander, honestly.
The delivery coming back has always been my strength. Though I was happy with my bowling, India's series defeat has been disappointing. The toss was a crucial factor and Stephen Fleming was lucky on most occasions.
Your run-up and action appear a lot more economical these days and you are operating to a nice rhythm...
Over a period of time the action starts changing. This is pretty common for all bowlers in the world. Obviously I have reduced on my pace now. I try to bowl as straight as possible. That's the main thing. The energy has to be spent very economically. Make sure that you keep pegging at the batsmen all the time.
Going into the World Cup, how's the mood in the camp? Can you shed light on this as a senior member of the side?
A small section of the media feels there is no proper jelling in this side. It is easy to sit and talk from a distance. If you ask me about the last 10 years with an Indian cricket team, this is the best side. The boys have really got together. And they are playing as a unit, which is really admirable. The talk of the team disintegrating and people having their own agenda is definitely wrong. They have got wrong ideas.
How can these persons know what's happening in the team? Some very unreasonable and unfair comments have been made and if you ask me, when a side is facing a challenge as enormous as the World Cup, these things are most uncalled for.
This will be your fourth World Cup. How would you look at the three earlier ones?
This will be a big tournament for us. Whatever cricket I have played, I will try to draw from that, derive the best out of my experience. I want to give it my best shot. The conditions should suit our team as a whole. I don't want to say that I need a juicy pitch, I don't want to be selfish. I hope that the conditions suit our batsmen and that our batting and bowling click at the same time. Going into the past, it has been disappointing for me when it comes to the World Cup.
When I played my first World Cup in '92, I was very young and raw, I didn't know much about cricket. In my second World Cup, we made it to the semifinals, but somehow messed it up. Then, in '99, I remember my shot against Zimbabwe, where we almost won the match and then lost it. Against Australia, we lost early wickets and that was the end of the game for us. Keeping all these things in my mind, this World Cup is the most important tournament of my life. Just taking part in the World Cup doesn't mean much to me. This time I want our side to win the Cup.
You have always been an introspective cricketer...
I still think about the game with intensity. I've always been critical of my own performance. I have always felt that I could have done better. These are the important things that have kept my career going for the last 12 years.
You nailed Chris Cairns thrice in three games with off-cutters in the one-dayers...
There is an extra edge to your cricket when you face off with big names. That invariably gets the best out of me. I try to motivate myself. Even at the nets, I always try and bowl at my best to Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. The best batsmen always provide that extra bit of challenge.
This interview was first published in Sportstar magazine on 15.02.2003
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