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Ranji Trophy special: An Interview with Himmat Singh

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Himmat_Singh_Delhi_Ranji_Trophy_India_CricketDelhi has a rich tradition of producing quality batsmen. In the recent past, the Ranji side has produced the batsman who scored 2 triple centuries for India: Virender Sehwag; a dynamic leader: southpaw Gautam Gambhir; two Under-19 World Cup winning captains: Unmukt Chand and Virat Kohli (who is now the best limited overs batsman in world); and the scorer of the fastest century in Ranji Trophy history: Rishab Pant.

And still there is no dearth of talented batsmen in Delhi. Yet another prodigy, Himmat Singh, has made his debut in Delhi’s Ranji team in this season. He has the potential to make it to the list of the batsmen mentioned above. Himmat talked with HoldingWilley about his journey so far as a cricketer.

Q: How are your preparations going for the knockout matches of the Ranji Trophy?

A: The preparations are going really good. Ranji Trophy is India’s premier domestic tournament and it is really a good achievement to qualify for knock outs. We want to play with the same intensity and attitude with which we played in the league stages. In knockouts, there is no coming back if you lose the game, so that little thing will be on my mind. It is important that once we get ahead, we can’t miss the opportunity. That’s exactly what we did against Madhya Pradesh.

Q: How has your experience been so far in your first Ranji Trophy season?

A: It has been really fantastic. Getting a chance to play for the senior team is always a pleasure. There are lots of youngsters in our team. The average age of our team is roughly around 24-25 years. Rishab Pant and I are the youngest members of the team. In fact, Rishab is the youngest captain Delhi has ever had. Definitely, we have less experience compared to other sides, but we are a young, new generation with new ideas. So it’s going to be a really good outing in the knockouts.

Q: You have always batted at No.4 or below. Do you consider yourself a middle-order batsman?

A: I am definitely a middle-order batsman but I am not too rigid about my batting position. I can bat at any position. Even if my team wants me to open then I don’t mind that at all. Also, being a middle order batsman, sometimes the batting comes after 80th over where eventually you have to face a new ball. So it doesn’t really matter to me where I bat as far as I am contributing to the team’s success. To be considered as a good player, you should always be ready to play at any batting position, anytime and in any situation.

Q: You were in the Delhi squad for the 2015-16 season and in the probables for the 2016 Under-19 World Cup. How do you keep yourself motivated when you have to wait longer for your chances than expected?

A: For me every game that I play is a crucial game. The key here is to focus on process. All I can do is give my 100%. Now that I am in the Ranji trophy team, I believe that I am just one step away from India. Ultimately, playing for India is my main goal. I am not thinking about factors that are not in my control. I never think about the competition I have got within the team that I am a part of. I always focus on good thoughts and things I can do that will help me get into the Indian team.

Q: You were captain of the Delhi Under-16 and Under-19 teams. Statistics show that your performance improves in knockout stages. Thoughts?

A: Yes, I led Delhi team in the age group stage of my career in the Vijay Merchant and Cooch Behar Trophy. Basically, I like to take responsibility. Knockouts are the phase where a team can’t lose any moment in the match. Otherwise the match will drift away from us. I like to play under pressure. Because the conditions are tough and there is nothing to lose for an individual. Let’s suppose if my team is 30 for 4 when I go out to bat, Then I go with a thought that we can only get better from there. If I can do well in such situations then I think I improve as a player. Also, people will start recognising you for a good knock that you play under tough conditions.

Q: What is the influence of Rahul Dravid and other senior players in the Delhi team like Gautam Gambhir and Ishant Sharma on a youngster like you?

A: I got a very little chance of interacting with Rahul Dravid. He was not there during our preparation camp at National Cricket Academy, but he joined us later during Challengers trophy. I learnt a lot in that little time we spent with him. He kept teaching us only the positive things. After the matches we always used to discuss what went wrong and how we can improve them. Talking about senior player in Delhi team, they have always backed young lads. They tell us to go hard at the game, give the best performance. One important thing they have said is that cricket is just a part of a life. Don’t let failures have negative impact on your mind. Enjoy playing cricket and do not take undue pressure. It is really good to have experienced players like them guiding a youngster like me.

Q: Every youngster these days has a dream of playing in the IPL. Is IPL your next target after making your Ranji Trophy debut?

A: Well, frankly speaking my ultimate dream is to play for India. Definitely there is excitement about playing in IPL. But IPL is like a ladder for me to make a place for myself in Indian team. IPL gives youngsters exposure. Everyone watches it around the world. A good performance in IPL will never go unnoticed. Let’s see if I get a chance in the upcoming editions of tournament.

Q: You look very calm and composed on field, which is not like typical Delhi players, who like to express themselves on field. What are the reasons for that?

A: (Laughs) I look calm and composed because I am completely focused on my batting when I am playing. But in my mind I am always thinking of dominating the bowlers. I never like to play too many dot balls. I am not that kind of a batsman who likes to stay at the wicket for some time, let the balls go till you get used to a condition. In cricket you have to get into the bowler’s mind. If I can play aggressive cricket and get into bowlers’ minds then half the battle is won. Then I can make him bowl in the areas that I want to play. I can capitalize on the situation from there on. So playing aggressive cricket is always my first thought.

Q: You talk about playing aggressive cricket. Do you think your game suits more to limited overs cricket than first class cricket?

A: To an extent, yes. Though I prefer all the formats, limited overs cricket is what we in Delhi grew up with. Most of the matches we play in early days of our career, in Delhi’s domestic cricket circuit, are 50 or 40 overs matches. These days, lots of T20 tournaments are being organized for younger age groups. Having played so much of limited overs cricket, I know how I am supposed to play in a limited overs match. What shots I should play in which situations. I back myself in shorter formats of the game. I made my list A debut in 2015, 2 years before my Ranji Trophy debut. So it is evident that I have an inclination towards One Day and T2O formats.

Q: Lastly, can you tell us about the role of your coach, and a player who is your role model?

A: I started my cricket coaching at the age of 7. My coach was Mr. Tarak Sinha sir. He is a very eminent coach in Delhi. He has produced 12 Test players and more than 200 first class players. Since that time, he has looked after my game. He has played a huge contribution in my development as a cricketer. Talking about role models, I like Virat Kohli, which is obvious as he is from Delhi, he is a middle order batsman like me, plays with aggression and I love his approach towards game. I also like Joe Root. He is one of the best players in Test cricket. He is always looking for runs and I think my mindset is same as his in first class cricket. I really enjoy watching these two play in international matches.

 

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