Ishank Jaggi Interview: "I need one big performance in the IPL to move on to the next stage"
Coming from the same state as India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, it’s not too surprising for any youngster to follow the footsteps of the celebrated ‘Captain Cool’. Like many other players in the country, Ishank Rajiv Jaggi too wants to march on the footsteps of his senior state-mate.
“Dhoni bhaiya played for India ‘A’ and from there on went on to play for India. I will just be trying to do the same thing. He is a great motivator and the self-belief he has is admirable and more than wanting to be like Dhoni I would rather say I am following his footsteps,” a 20-year old Jaggi had told an English daily back in 2008, when he was in Bangalore for a five-day preparatory camp for the Emerging Players Tournament in Australia.
It was Jaggi’s first international tournament, and the youngster, more than being thrilled, was eager to make a big impression at the quadrangle tour.
He is going to turn 24 this Sunday, but his most awaited call from Indian selectors hasn’t come. However, in these past four years he has evolved into a better cricketer, and has been able to establish himself as a key, match-winning player for his home state Jharkhand. The team, mostly considered as underdogs in domestic cricket, made it to the quarterfinal against Punjab in which Jaggi even scored a century. But the match didn’t go as planned for the Jharkhand squad.
In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, Ishank Jaggi speaks about how important it was for his state side to make it to the quarters and also about his prospects to make it to the next level.
In an earlier interview, you had spoken of how important it was for Jharkhand to enter the elite stage in Ranji Trophy. The team seems to have made its mark?
Actually, the current batch comprises of almost the same players as our team in the U-15 and U-19. Most of us have been playing together for quite a few years now. Our team was always good in the shorter format, with as many as six players in different IPL teams. But after Tarak Sinha took over as our coach, we have all evolved into better team players. Under him, we were mentally trained to play Test cricket. It’s only this season that everyone in the team has gotten used to the longer format. Earlier, we would pull of decent individual performances, but now we play well as a team and that’s a positive this season.
Losing to Punjab in the quarters must have been a heartbreak?
It was, but though we lost the quarters to Punjab, we scored 400 runs against them and that was our highest total ever, so that gave us a lot of confidence. We never used to get past 260-300. I’m sure next year we will do a lot better and work hard to stay in the elite stage for as many years possible.
This season, we played a lot on turning tracks or green pitches. We were struggling to get big runs. Our highest until we played the quarters was 360 against Goa. Saurav (Tiwari) and I were batting at No.3 and No.4. But the team needed a stronger batsman who could hold the middle order so I was moved to No.5 and it did help. We did well against Services and Delhi.
You have always shown that you are comfortable batting at any position, unlike many others?
I have never had a problem batting at any position. In T20s, I have opened the batting and even played at No.7. I have played at No 3 and No.5 too. I love playing against the fast bowlers, so I have never had issues batting anywhere.
You had spoken of the importance of having seniors in the team. Does the team ever miss MS Dhoni? Unlike other Indian team players, he doesn’t make himself available for Ranji matches…
Yes, of course we miss him. Every player wants to play alongside Dhoni. But we certainly understand that he hardly ever gets time. A senior Indian player plays the Ranji Trophy only when he is rested or dropped, and in Dhoni’s case that’s never happened. Whenever we meet, he speaks of his schedule, and it’s hard for him to even go home and spend time with his family. I mean, hats off to him really.
But if he ever is in Ranchi, he will never miss meeting the whole team. I remember one time when we were playing in Jamshedpur; he travelled all the way from Ranchi (drove 4-5 hours), met the team, spent 5 hours watching the match and left.
How has the infrastructure in Jharkhand evolved?
Back when I was playing the U-15, it was not as good. But now things have changed a lot. We never had good facilities, even at the grounds, but now with Inspector General Amitabh Chaudary taking over as the president of administration, there has been a tremendous improvement. We have a new stadium which was built in just a year and a half. He ensures that he keeps a tab on every player too. We have a new academy too where cricketers can stay and train. We have many turf wickets too now. Things have changed for the good.
You were playing for the Deccan Chargers before they were terminated from IPL. What’s the status now on your IPL prospects?
Actually I am looking for a team to play in the IPL. I will be going for a few camps in the coming weeks. It was disappointing, whatever happened with the Deccan Chargers, but the team management and support staff were very supportive. They felt for the players who weren’t picked in the auction.
How do you rate your performance over the years?
Personally, I feel I have been performing well in big matches. I average between 45 – 55 in domestic games and that’s been pretty consistent. But I think I need one big performance in the IPL to move on to the next stage.