Among Indian leg-spinners in this IPL, only Rahul Chahar (13) and Yuzvendra Chahal (15) have got more wickets than the young Punjab Kings leggie Ravi Bishnoi who has got 11 wickets so far. However, what separates him from other international players is his ability to bowl so miserly in every match. His economy rate (6.35) is better than Chahar (7.39) and Chahal (7.20) and that makes him a valuable asset for any team to have in their side. Moneycontrol.com spoke to Bishnoi on his journey so far and future plans in a special chat. Here is an edited excerpt.
Q: You were being seen as a big-wicket taker during your campaign in the Under-19 World Cup and even in the last season of the IPL, but this time you are focusing more on keeping things very tight from your end. What is the reason for this change of approach?
Bishnoi: If you deny the batters free scoring opportunities, it puts them under pressure. The dot balls build the pressure on the batsmen and sometimes your partner from the other end will benefit from your efforts and that benefits the entire team. I try to bowl as many dot balls and build pressure. Of course, you always want to pick a wicket on every ball but at the same time, you also know that is not possible. However, what is more possible is to keep the batsmen in check by bowling a lot of dot balls and not allowing them the freedom to hit.
Q: Besides Rashid Khan, which spinners have impressed you the most?
Bishnoi: We all know how good Amit Mishra has been. He is a traditional leg spinner and often deceives the batters in the air with flight. Samual Badree was another leggie who impressed me with his incredible accuracy with the new ball and he was outstanding. Similarly, one wants the enthusiasm of the South African great Imran Tahir who wants to bowl at any time. He is always looking for wickets and that is amazing.
Q: Sharing the dressing room with a legend like Anil Kumble must be a great learning curve for you?
Bishnoi: Anil bhai is a very friendly person and I really enjoy his company. You may not believe this but at times, he would even laugh and join our joking sessions. However, when it comes to cricketing matters, he always tells me to follow the process and often emphasises that one shouldn’t be trying to do too many things at this level and should always have the self-confidence to do well.
Q: You recently took the wicket of Rohit Sharma. Who are the other top players of spin that you have wanted to target?
Bishnoi: Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma are legends. Who doesn’t want to pick their wickets? They are very special and great players but for me, Suryakumar Yadav has been the most challenging. So, it was more satisfying to outfox him twice this IPL.
Q: What has been the most memorable part of your journey in the world’s most high-profile league?
Bishnoi: There is little doubt that IPL has given me a huge recognition in India. The way I am being treated by friends and relatives say it all! In PBKS dressing room, when I see someone like (Mohammad) Shami Bhaiya, I can’t believe that I am playing with such great players. He is a very simple man and he keeps himself fit for all formats. These are the things which are memorable for me. Also, how can I forget the experience of bowling to Universe Boss Chris Gayle at the nets which is a huge learning curve.
Q: Besides Kumble, former Zimbabwean great Andy Flower is also part of your team’s coaching set-up. Anything special you picked up from him? He was one of the finest players of spin bowling in this time.
Bishnoi: Andy tells me how cricket has changed and yet controlling your mind hasn’t changed for any cricketer in any era. It is vital to be mentally strong and have a positive mindset. He has shared a lot of insights from a batsman’s point of view, and it has been a great learning experience.