Gujarat Titans kicked off their IPL journey on Monday with a game against fellow newcomers Lucknow Super Giants, which they won by five wickets. The Ahmedabad franchise has Hardik Pandya as its captain and young batter Shubman Gill to lead the batting side of the business. The bowling division is led by Afghan spin wizard Rashid Khan, who has already made a name for himself in the competition with his SunRisers Hyderabad superlatives.
Prior to the start of the IPL 2022 campaign, Rashid spoke to NDTV. Here are the excerpts from the chat.
Q) Rashid Khan, thank you very much for joining the broadcast. Rashid, New season and new team. What does Titans’ new identity feel like and how unique is it?
Rashid Khan: It feels good to start a new journey with a new team and a new captain at Gujarat Titans, and I’m looking forward to more. I’m so excited, you know, getting to know each other, getting to know the new guys and sharing the experience and getting their experience. The achievement I have had in the last 5 years in IPL I will try my best to keep that up and also continue in this new team and I am looking forward to the competition starting soon and enjoy the game with the guys.
Q) This is a new franchise in the league. What makes the Gujarat team unique?
Rashid Khan: Well, to be honest, it’s hard to say right now because it’s too early. We have a new captain in Hardik Pandya, someone who is very aggressive and has so much love for this game. He is someone who wants you to perform and want you 100% and the same with every man on the team. There is exciting and new talent. I’m really looking forward to the support we get from the coaching staff and from every player. I also want to do well in this big team and I think the team should keep things simple and just give 100% and enjoy the game.
Q) You played under the captaincy of the talisman Kane Williamson, how different would it be to play under Hardik Pandya? And what kind of conversations do you have with him and what kind of inspirations do you get from him?
Rashid Khan: I’m super excited. At first I was excited to play with him on the same team. But now he is a captain and it is now important for me to play with him. The good friend now leads the team and I am so excited to just learn from him. So many things especially those two months will be great for me to choose his thoughts and see his preparation. And I think this is something I’m really looking forward to, and we, the other senior players who have played around the world, will do our best to support him as much as possible and get together as a team and enjoy it to the end every game and keep learning from every game.
Q) You have been escorted by captains like Asghar Afghan and then Kane Williamson. One captain you haven’t been able to play under is MS Dhoni, but any tip you can tell us you got from one of these guys that will serve you well and that you’ll always remember?
Rashid Khan: I’m sure I’ve gotten advice from some of my captains so many times. One from Afghanistan. Asghar Afghan was someone early in my career, someone who really supported me when I was new to the team. He gave me the support I needed during that time and that gave me the freedom to just focus on my performance and not think about too many things. He had told me to just go there and enjoy your cricket in whatever skills you have, focus on that. And we only need those of your skills to be delivered in the ground. It doesn’t matter what the result will be, but you just have to enjoy your cricket. And it was the same from Kane Williamson. He also asked me to enjoy the game and I also got support from VVS Laxman. These are memories I will never forget.
Q) Do you have a new delivery for this season from IPL as we see bowlers experimenting every season?
Rashid Khan: Well right now I think all the deliveries I’ve done so far are working for me and I think I should just keep it simple to myself you know don’t do that much experimentation and I think it’s my game can influence. I do have some more deliveries, but I don’t have that much control over them that I could bowl them in a game right now. And I’m looking forward, you know, just to practice more with those deliveries in the nets and also in the longer format and then bring them into the T20.
Q) The sport has been tough in recent years. There have been difficult situations in your country. You have not seen your family often, you have stayed in bio bubbles and played cricket. How hard has it been for you and what has really kept you healthy and going?
Rashid Khan: It’s pretty hard to be honest. In the beginning, when we started playing, it was especially difficult for me. I used to go out a lot. I love shopping. I was always at the mall when I was having an off day and even after the practice session. But ever since the bio-bubble started, it’s made things pretty hard and tough for any athlete. But you just get used to that now. Luckily we go to England and Australia where we don’t have that kind of strict bubbles, but still you are limited. It affects a player mentally. I hope this pandemic is over soon and we get back to normal routine.