“I helped Yuzvendra Chahal in his growing up years”, reminisces the 32-year-old Pardeep Sahu who plays for Kings XI Punjab. Speaking exclusively to InUth, the Bhiwani-born all-rounder gave us an outline of what he expects from himself in Indian Premier League 2018 and also revealed why his career went downhill after making his Ranji debut in the 2002-03 season. The leg-spinner from Haryana is no stranger to the coveted IPL stage; he was picked for the Rajasthan Royals franchise in 2015 and in the following year, he was bought by Kings XI Punjab. But, unfortunately, he did not get to feature in many games to prove his worth.
The tall Haryanvi all-rounder has a distinguished record of scalping 10 wickets in an inning. Son of an advocate, he stayed in rented rooms while giving trials in Delhi. As Pardeep turns another chapter in his career this IPL, we discover what is new about Haryana’s old warhorse.
Here are the excerpts of the interview:
Interviewer: What were your expectations from the IPL 2018 auction? Were you confident of being picked with so many leg-spinners in the circuit?
Pardeep: I was confident, as my skills are equivalent to that of international bowlers. Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab are two franchises that know about me and my skill-set, hence I was hoping I would make it to one of the two sides. I had also given my trials for Delhi Daredevils, which had gone off well. I was also expectant that the Mumbai Indians franchise may pick me as I play a lot of local cricket in Mumbai.
Interviewer: Where was your family during the auctions and their first reaction to you getting picked?
Pardeep: My parents were in Haryana and my father was watching. He was relieved on seeing me get selected but I was confident throughout.
Interviewer: How did your cricket journey begin?
Pardeep: I am from Haryana and have played all my cricket there. I have been a part of the U-19 team, where I also captained that side. I debuted in Ranji at the age of 17 and then played U-23 for Haryana as well. I and Amit Mishra also played together.
Interviewer: There were murmurs of Amit Mishra and you not getting along well…
Pardeep: Never ever were there any issues between us two. You see, it is a classic case of Stuart McGill not getting his full due because he played in the shadow of Shane Warne. It is the same here, I was not picked in more than 40 Ranji games because Amit Mishra was there. So I was on the team for 10 years but had to sit out. You know that the Lahli wicket offers bounce and pace, hence playing two leg-spinners is impossible, so I was dropped. That is absolutely understandable.
Interviewer: How was your the relationship with Yuzvendra Chahal?
Pardeep: He is my junior and his father asked me to take care of him like an elder brother. So I was also guiding Chahal on the way, but he had the talent and there is no doubting that. We used to stay together in a rented room in Delhi.
Interviewer: What do you think will be your role in the KXIP mix? For example, will you play the role of a wicketkeeper or someone who keeps a lid on the run-scoring?
Pardeep: I am a spinner but have always thought aggressively. I only think of picking wickets. There are other spinners in the Punjab outfit, but if they are looking for a third spinner, I could get the nod. My logic will be simple then — go for wickets.
Interviewer: So have you developed any new weapon in your repertoire which will surprise batsmen?
Pardeep: Oh yes, I have. I have developed two deliveries which would confuse the batsmen. So when our practices begin, I will bowl these new deliveries to Yuvraj and Gayle to get a better idea of how effective these deliveries are.
Interviewer: Who is your favourite cricketer or someone you look up to?
Pardeep: If you are talking about leg-spinners, it is Shane Warne undoubtedly. Apart from the, I like Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag.
Interviewer: At the age of 32, what are you expecting from the game?
Pardeep: You see, I am a spinner and I remain fit. I expect to play for 10 more years (laughs) if everything goes according to plan.
Interviewer: How do you keep yourself fit?
Pardeep: I keep playing, be it First Class cricket or local cricket, that is exactly what keeps me in shape and I plan to continue doing that.
Interviewer: Who do you think will become the captain of Kings XI Punjab?
Pardeep: That is up to the management to decide who fills the shoes of the captain, that is certainly not my lookout. I will be happy to play under any captain.
Author’s Take: It is very difficult to pursue the game at 32 — an age that is considered to be the twilight period for cricketers. The never-say-die attitude is what makes this Bhiwani boy’s story gripping. He is inspirational for many cricketers who contemplate hanging up their boots if not given a proper chance. The tweaker may not finish his career as one of India’s best spinners, but the way he has motivated Haryana youngsters to take to the sport makes his story a worthy read.