IPL 2022 – Arshdeep Singh
Was there any pressure to be a retained player for the Punjab Kings?
There was no pressure as such. Every time you have a chance for a team, you try to give 100%, whether it’s your first year or your tenth year, whether you’ve been selected or you’ve passed the bid. If a team has trusted you, you have to do well for them and give 100%.
How do you see your evolution as a bowler in recent years?
I feel like I’m much more consistent now. Previously, I used to throw loose balls in between. Now I worked a lot on that to not give the batter that release ball. All the hitters who come to play in the IPL are quite experienced. They are aware and are good enough to hit you for a boundary whenever they get a bad ball. It’s something I’ve been working on a lot, that I play consistently in good areas with a good plan. In the next few days, the focus will be on how to improve it further.
What specific exercises did you do to become more consistent?
I did a lot of one-stop training. Lots of length ball and yorker reps. After doing it so many times in practice, you start to understand where your ball will land if you run at that particular speed at that particular angle. I guess with all that repetition you start to get that feeling and it makes a lot of difference.
Are you also working on improving your bowling speed?
Right now I’m trying to focus on consistency. The bottom line is how consistent I am in sticking to those lines and lengths, and executing my plans.
And the fitness part?
As an athlete, the goal is to stay as fit as possible. Every season, every month, every day, you try to work on it so that when you wake up in the morning you feel energized and not tired. So that’s the main goal – to maintain a good level of fitness and that’s what I’ve been working on.
Have you changed your diet to achieve this?
As you know, dieting is not easy in Punjabi homes.
Adrian Le Roux, our coach at Punjab Kings, says the best way to recover is to get at least eight hours of sleep [in a day] and stay hydrated. I try to tick those boxes and it has helped my game a lot.
You and Jasprit Bumrah have beaten the most Yorkers this IPL season. Is this a delivery you worked on specifically?
Like I said earlier, the reps make a big difference because your control improves tremendously and you start to feel confident that you can play in the game too. You practice with a normal ball or with a slightly damp ball if there is a risk of dew in the game. Sometimes you play against a batsman, sometimes you practice at a single wicket. Sometimes you can place boots or another target to aim for. You can even challenge other bowlers in the net to see who can hit the target the most times. It adds a fun element.
You were the designated undead bowler for your team this season. Was this communicated to you in advance?
I guess the team combination was such that I was supposed to knock down one at the start, one in the middle, and two at the death. I was told before the tournament what my role would be. So in practice matches I played accordingly. I would like to thank the team management very much for the clarity of the role they gave me. It helped me tremendously because I knew when I had to play so I could plan accordingly.
When did you start feeling confident that you could play the death well?
I guess the first thing is that you have to have that self-confidence. Only then will others trust you. Every time you step onto the pitch, you walk with the confidence that no matter who’s up against you, you’ll back up your skills and do well for your team. You only reach this level if you have the required skills. After that it comes down to who can adapt to the situation in the middle and excel.
In the death overs, you mixed your yorkers very well with slower ones. How do you decide which delivery to bowl when?
It depends on the terrain. If the wicket is slow and you want to use it, or if you want to use the higher limit, you throw slower balls. If the wicket is flat, you go for the yorker. A bowler must be adaptable to the demands of the situation. Sometimes you have senior players around you, like we had [Kagiso] Rabada, so they tell you what works that day in that field, so you can try them. I guess from there you have a good idea of what kind of variations you can use.
You mentioned the presence of Rabada. From 2019 to 2021, you played with Mohammed Shami for Punjab. What kinds of discussions did you have with them?
I especially asked them when they were in a good rhythm, what was their state of mind. Likewise, when they’re having a bad day, what they think. I tried to choose these things from them and I guess they will help me a lot in the future. But the biggest thing I learned from them was to enjoy the game.
So, do you like bowling?
I like bowling everywhere. Whenever I have the opportunity to play for my team, I try to take advantage of it. When you step onto the cricket ground, whether it’s a 50 or 20 match, you should try to enjoy the game because it’s something you enjoy doing. Also, when you love your job and enjoy it, you don’t feel tired. That feeling of representing the team, whether it’s the Punjab Kings, or Punjab, or the whole country in the future, it’s a sense of pride, and it works like a boost.
Did you have different plans for different hitters on the death, or did you stick to one general plan?
Usually in the IPL we have these bowler meetings where you make plans based on the dimensions of the field and the strengths and weaknesses of the batsmen. Based on this, you decide what to throw to which batsman. But after that it depends on how the wicket will play because you can’t plan that. It is therefore very important to adapt to the situation in the middle.
The Punjab Kings had many power hitters in the team this season. Did bowling against them in the net help you?
Yes, it helped a lot, because when you play with such good players, you get an idea of what areas you shouldn’t play in.
You’ve had great saving this season but only picked up ten wickets in 14 games. Do you think a bowler can only achieve one of these two?
It is not like that. You can’t judge whether you played well or not by your numbers. It’s mainly about how your efforts were and whether you gave 100%, and whether you could execute your plans or not, because the execution is in your control, the results are not.
So how do you measure success?
At the end of the day when you go to bed you should be happy with how you bowled because wickets or runs won’t give you the full picture every time. But you know whether you gave 100% or not, or whether you were able to execute your plans or not. You might try bowling a yorker, but it turned out to be a half volley and you got a wicket. Now this result is good for the team. Everyone knows you took a wicket but you know you made a mistake and couldn’t execute what you wanted. So before you go to bed, when you remember what you did in the middle, it gives you the real picture. Statistics can’t tell you these things, these things that you yourself feel.
Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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