One of the delights for those who have been following Indian cricket lately has been the emergence of young fast bowling talents in the country. One talent that has captured everyone's imagination among the lot is the Uttar Pradesh pacer Shivam Mavi.
Mavi came into the limelight after playing an instrumental role in India’s ICC U-19 World Cup 2018 triumph. Subsequently, he was roped in by Kolkata Knight Riders at the IPL 2018 auction for INR 3 Crore.
However, his progress was hindered by a number of injuries. In fact, the 22-year-old was away from the game for a considerable time in 2019, missing out on the IPL season as well.
After an extensive rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore, Mavi eventually made an impressive comeback to cricket via the 2020 edition of Indian Premier League in UAE. He was vital in quite a few KKR wins, taking 9 wickets from 8 matches at an average and economy rate of 23.55 and 8.15 respectively.
During the now-suspended IPL 2021, the right-arm pacer looked in good rhythm as well, claiming 2 scalps in 3 games at an economy of 6.33. His team was placed at the seventh position with only 2 wins from 7 outings when the tournament was postponed last month due to rising COVID-19 cases in bio-bubbles.
Having been overlooked in India’s second-string squad for the white-ball tour of Sri Lanka next month, Mavi will now return to action in the second phase of IPL 14, slated to be held in UAE in the September-October window.
In an exclusive chat with Ms. Ishan Yadav Mahal, Digital Head of Circle of Cricket, Shivam Mavi opened up on a number of topics, including his IPL showing, getting hit by Prithvi Shaw for 6 consecutive fours and Sri Lanka tour snub.
Here’s the excerpt of the interview:
Q: You seemed to have built up good rhythm in the 3 matches you played in before the season's suspension, tell us the kind of work you did ahead of IPL 2021?
A: “I did a lot of hardwork before the IPL 2021. Since I had back-to-back stress fractures, I worked on my fitness immensely. During the off-season, I worked on my bowling as well, understating the areas for bowling on different types of wickets. As I have been playing, I am also gaining experience and as you would need better fitness to bowl 140+, I have improved on it.”
Q: Your one-time U-19 captain, Prithvi Shaw, hit six fours in an over off your bowling. Later we saw you both sharing a lighter moment. What did you tell him?
A: “When Prithvi Shaw hit me for six fours in an over, I met him and asked if I bowled badly? He then told me that it happens sometimes but you need to learn the lessons from it and not repeat the same mistakes in future. Since he has played a lot alongside me at the U-19 level, he was aware of my plans and was ahead of me, knowing that i would hit him here if he bowls at this spot. So, he told me that ‘I was aware of your tactics and it happens sometimes, don’t focus too much into it and continue to bowl the way you have in previous matches’.”
Q: KKR had a very indifferent time in the first half of the season. What do you think went wrong and can the team turn it around in UAE, where some overseas players might not be available?
A: “We have played 7 games this season, winning only 2 and losing 5. I think one reason could be the playing combination. In the remaining half of the tournament, we have to win 5 out of the 7 games to qualify for the play-offs. It will be our main target and we will try our level best to reach the play-offs. If the overseas players won’t be available, we Indians have to take the initiative and lift our game for the team.”
Q: What was the mood in the camp like after COVID-19 cases emerged which eventually meant the league had to be postponed?
A: “When we were inside the bio-bubble and the cases emerged, no one panicked. In fact, all of them showed care and had a word with infected players [Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier] via video call and told them COVID can happen to anyone. Our CEO Venky Sir and owner Shah Rukh Sir also looked after the infected players and advised them to take the necessary precautions, medicines.”
Q: How it's been like to share the dressing room with Pat Cummins, the number one Test pacer in the world?
A: “Pat Cummins is a good guy. He has helped and guided me on how to bowl in different situations. We feel positive by having him around us and his presence is a big plus point for the team. It always feels nice to have a word with him. I talk to him in case of any doubt and he guides me accordingly. The one thing that I have learned from Pat Cummins is - how to bowl in one area by keeping patience as we have seen his line and length remains consistent, which gives him wickets.”
Q: How important is pace for you and what do you do behind the scenes to bowl at high pace despite the injury setbacks you have had in your brief career thus far?
A: “Obviously, pace is important to me because I have taken wickets from it until now and I won’t compromise on it going ahead. As I had injuries, my rhythm wasn’t that good but I feel a lot better now. In order to generate pace, I also do a lot of hardwork regularly, ensuring that my fitness remains up to the mark. My aim is to bowl 140+ wherever I play a match. The injuries that I had in the past are being seen as my weakness and I intend to work on it so that it doesn’t become a problem for my career.”
Q: Tell us about your equation with fellow Indian speedsters at KKR like Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Sandeep Warrier and Prasidh Krishna?
A: “As you have seen, our team has the best domestic bowlers in Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Sandeep Warrier and Prasidh Krishna. Playing alongside them, I have found that our thinking is almost the same. We help each other out during the match as well. They are also very nice human beings and always stay in a positive mindset. I have been playing with Kamlesh since the Under-19 days and it feels good to have him at KKR as well.”
Q: Were you expecting a call-up to the Indian squad for the Sri Lankan tour with many experienced players away in England?
A: “Almost all the experienced players are currently on the tour of England, so I had expected to be picked for the Sri Lanka tour. Every performing player thinks that he could get a selection call-up but it is not in my hands. I have hardwork in my hands and I have been doing it regularly and I believe that my name will feature in the list in near future.”