Tamil Nadu spinner M Siddharth has opened up about his team's preparations for the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy. He expressed confidence regarding Tamil Nadu's chances in the List A tournament, and stated that the side will take heart from their emphatic title win in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy last month.
The Capitals' interest in him may have been derived from his stunning display in the final of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in Ahmedabad. Siddharth, who was playing his first game of the tournament, scalped 4 wickets in his 4 overs while conceding only 20 runs. He was the deserved recipient of the Man of the Match award.
In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, Siddharth revealed that he was confident of doing well even though he was on the bench for most of the tournament.
"I wanted to utilise the chance I get to the fullest. I wanted to play well and win for the team. I went in with this mindset. Obviously, it's not ideal to be on the bench. But I've always seen the bigger picture. I am always moving towards my goals, and I didn't change any of my routines - fitness, bowling, anything."
When asked about the mood in the Tamil Nadu camp ahead of the Vijay Hazare Trophy, the left-arm spinner sounded optimistic of the team making another deep run in the tournament. Dinesh Karthik's men reached the final last year, but fell to rivals Karnataka.
"Preparations are going well. We've won the T20 trophy, so we want to take that momentum into the Vijay Hazare Trophy."
Tamil Nadu have a wealth of spin-bowling options at their disposal. Ravichandran Ashwin, Washington Sundar, Murugan Ashwin and Varun Chakravarthy are all IPL regulars, while R Sai Kishore and Siddharth himself are on the verge of breaking through at their respective franchises.
Speaking about the state's spin riches, Siddharth praised the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) and first-division league cricket for shaping the next generation of tweakers.
"Tamil Nadu is synonymous with spin, right from a young age. Spinners have played a lot of cricket from their formattive years, we have first-division cricket which is very important. The TNPL has also given us a lot of exposure."
Washington Sundar is very close to me; teaches me many things: M Siddharth
Siddharth has been one of the many players who've come through the ranks in the TNPL and then gone on to make their mark for the state team across formats. He won the 2019 edition of the tournament with the Chepauk Super Gillies, and had a special word of praise for former India cricketer and team coach Hemang Badani.
"Hemang Badani helped me a lot when I was part of Chepauk Super Gillies. He helped me understand how to back my strengths and how to bowl. I took the same learnings to the IPL."
Siddharth added that he is very close to India all-rounder Washington Sundar. He admitted that Sundar has helped him a lot over the last few years.
"Plus, Washi is very close to me. I ask him a lot of questions, and he teaches me many things. He gives me a lot of tips, regarding how to bowl at what stage of the innings and so on."
Siddharth's T20 record is astonishing - 16 wickets in 6 games at an economy rate of under 5. In the 4 first-class matches he has played, he has recorded only 10 scalps, but his average stands at a respectable 24.3. The 22-year-old emphatically stated that he will grab any opportunity he gets in the Ranji Trophy with both hands, just like he did in the 20-over format.
"When I get a chance in the Ranji Trophy, I will look to do well. I don't look at the numbers very much. My job is to contribute in every game and win games for the team. That's my only objective."
Siddharth signed off by iterating that his only mindset on a cricket field is to play with utter commitment and trust that results follow.
"If I go to a match, I have to give everything. After I do that, I don't worry about the result. My process should be correct, and I should give it all on the field. I always try to do whatever I can to improve my game."
Tamil Nadu kick off their Vijay Hazare Trophy campaign with an encounter against Punjab on 20th February, followed by matches against Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Siddharth will be keen on making an impact, not only in this tournament but in the upcoming IPL as well.