Aiming for the top

Jean-Paul Duminy with his Deccan Chargers team-mate Daniel Christian (right) during a practice session at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad. "The feeling of togetherness is one of the salient features of Deccan Chargers," says the South African.-K.R. DEEPAK Jean-Paul Duminy with his Deccan Chargers team-mate Daniel Christian (right) during a practice session at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad. "The feeling of togetherness is one of the salient features of Deccan Chargers," says the South African.

“I have set myself a goal — to be the best batsman in the world. I believe I have the capability to scale the summit,” says Jean-Paul Duminy in a chat with V. V. Subrahmanyam.

“It was all over in just 10 overs,” said Jean-Paul Duminy, still sulking over South Africa's meek surrender against New Zealand in the 2011 World Cup quarterfinal in Mirpur, Bangladesh, on March 25.

For the record, South Africa lost the quarterfinal match from a seemingly winning position. Chasing 222 for victory, the Proteas, who were 108 for two in the 25th over, lost five wickets in the space of 10 overs to be bowled out for 172.

“It all happened so quickly. A terrible feeling. We had high hopes of putting up a much better performance in this World Cup,” recalled Duminy, who is now playing for Deccan Chargers in the Indian Premier League-4.

Interestingly, the South African batsman doesn't believe in the tag of ‘chokers' attributed to his team for failing to come good on the big occasions in major events.

“I don't think we deserve that tag. To win a match on a given day, it depends on so many factors, and you need a little bit of luck too. Maybe, we lost quite a few big games in recent times. Yes, that loss to New Zealand hurt us a lot, but then, no one plays to lose a game,” Duminy said.

“Well, what happened in Mirpur is in the past (Duminy scored just three in that quarterfinal). We have to leave it behind and look forward. And, personally, I am determined to be the best batsman in the world,” said the 27-year-old South African, who, interestingly, made his ODI debut in 2004 but had to wait another four years to make his Test debut.

“It has been a truly fantastic experience to play in front of huge crowds. I don't think the conditions are any different now for the IPL as compared to the World Cup,” said Duminy, a great admirer of the West Indian legend, Brian Lara, and South Africa's former dashing batsman Herschelle Gibbs.

“Well, the IPL scheduled so close to the World Cup is not a big issue. At the international level, we have to adapt to the given conditions,” he explained. “This is part of the international schedule and no one can complain. The fact that the ICC has given it a window shows that the IPL is growing bigger and bigger. It is an integral part of the international schedule now,” he argued.

“The IPL is definitely demanding given the amount of travelling one has to do, but that is cricket at this level,” he said. Talking of his team Deccan Chargers, Duminy said: “It has been a wonderful experience being with the Chargers. The feeling of togetherness is one of the salient features of this team. I am enjoying my stint here.”

Duminy was hopeful that Deccan Chargers would overcome the bad start it has had to the IPL-4. “Bad starts are not the end of the campaign itself. We have the ability to come back strongly,” he insisted.

Duminy had played for Mumbai Indians in the first three seasons of the IPL before being bought over by Deccan Chargers. How does he feel now? “We have to take everything in our stride. The basic objective remains the same irrespective of which team you are playing for — you have to give off your best,” he said.

Duminy is a batsman who has the ability to change gears quickly in any format of the game. Talking of his Test knocks, Duminy said, “The 166 against Australia in Melbourne is a truly memorable one, coming close on the heels of the half-century I had hit in the Perth Test when we successfully chased down a target of 400-plus.”

As for his other memorable experiences, he said: “Definitely, playing for Mumbai Indians alongside Sachin Tendulkar was a great experience.”

Very much a team-man, Duminy said: “For me, my team's interest comes first. And I don't have any difficulty in adjusting to the different formats of the game.”

Duminy has so far played 12 Tests (518 runs, HS: 166, average: 28.77), 78 ODIs (2194 runs, HS: 129, average: 41.39) and 30 Twenty20 Internationals (648 runs, HS: 98 n.o., average: 30.85).

“I have set myself a goal — to be the best batsman in the world. I believe I have the capability to scale the summit,” said Duminy before joining his Deccan Chargers mates at a training session under the watchful eyes of coach Darren Lehmann.