Punjab Kings bowler Arshdeep Singh emerged as one of the star bowlers in IPL 2022. After putting up an outstanding show in the league, the 23-year-old pacer is all set to don the blue jersey in five-match T20I home series against South Africa. Punjab Kings’ senior bowler Kagiso Rabada regarded him as one of the best death bowlers in the tournament.
Skipper Mayank Agarwal promoted him to lead the pace attack, and Indian selectors rewarded him with a national call. Arshdeep Singh has the second-best death-overs economy rate (7.58). Singh’s journey to fame was never an easy one. His mother accompanied him to the club on a bicycle, but the bowler always enjoyed his time and kept his focus intact on the game.
Nothing could deviate him from his sheer dedication and zeal to represent the nation and don the blue jersey. The pacer’s dedication was so that he did not even celebrate the moment he got to know about his selection but instead kept his mind intact for Punjab Kings’ last league stage game against Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL 2022. Singh was travelling in a bus with his Punjab teammates for the match; eventually, Punjab won the game, and Arshdeep returned with an impressive economy of 6.20 by conceding just 25 runs in four overs.
In an exclusive interview with SportsTiger, Arshdeep opened up about his struggles and talked about his cricketing journey.
Congratulations on your maiden India call-up. How does it feel to be rewarded with such an opportunity after performing so well in the IPL?
Arshdeep: I am delighted and feel lucky enough to get a national call. Every cricket aspirant dreams of representing their nation, and I think my hard work and dedication finally paid off as I was selected in the squad for the South Africa tour. Also, I would like to express my gratitude to the selectors, head coach and skipper Rahul (bhai) for trusting me and taking me into the squad.
You had a fantastic IPL season. You were one of the most economical bowlers in the tournament, and you were excellent with yorkers. Tell us about your bowling style and what makes you different from others?
Arshdeep: Most of the credit goes to Punjab Kings’ coaching staff, especially the bowling coach. They kept guiding me since I joined the Punjab Kings camp, and my bowling coach always told me that yorkers are the most lethal weapon a bowler can use against the batsman, and I must be expertise in the same.
When and how did you get to know that you have been selected for the T20I series against South Africa?
Arshdeep: We were travelling in our bus for the last league stage against Sunrisers Hyderabad, I learned about selection in the national squad. But the whole focus at the time was on our game against Hyderabad, due to which I could not celebrate. But after winning that game, I celebrated with my teammates and thanked Punjab’s coaching staff.
Punjab Kings had some exciting players in the set-up. Still, the franchise could not perform well in the tournament. What was the reason behind that, according to you?
Arshdeep: We played an excellent and aggressive form of cricket in the tournament. But I believe we missed to win games in crucial situations due to which we lost the opportunity. We lacked to grab the small opportunities in a couple of games, due to which the final result was not in our favour. However, we have a great set of players in our camp, and the whole management is hopeful that the team will do well in the next season.
How do you feel about sharing the dressing room with world-class players? How they improved your game? Tell us something about that.
Arshdeep: The presence of Rabada in our camp helped me a lot. I used to discuss minute details with him, how he behaves when things are not in favour or cash in the opportunities when thing looks good on a particular day. Rabada is regarded as a world-class bowler, and his presence certainly helped me a lot in improving my game. Whereas the presence of players like Bairstow, Dhawan sir and Livingstone helped youngsters like us to understand the game well and how we should stay positive despite unlikely results.
You have travelled with the national squad during the Sri Lanka tour earlier as a net bowler. Tell us about that experience.
Arshdeep: That tour helped a lot to understand the minor tactics of the T20 format. The presence of Rahul Dravid and Paras Mhambre helped me a lot as they always guide youngsters through tough times and teach them to stay grounded when performance is good.
What will be your process and training for the five-match T20I series against South Africa?
Arshdeep: I will follow a similar training process as I have been doing since the start of my coaching days. I am now more focussed on my fitness as it’s a significant aspect of staying relevant at the international level. My priority will be to keep bowling at the required length and simultaneously learn new tricks and traits of bowling to add new weapons to my arsenal.
How difficult the temperature was during IPL 2022? It isn’t easy to maintain top-level fitness during such a highly competitive tournament amidst such intense heat.
Arshdeep: A lot of credit goes to physio for keeping us match fit. They took excellent care of small things and helped us cope with the intense temperature during the tournament. Brett Harp is a world-class physio, and his team is exceptionally qualified; they helped us a lot to maintain the level of fitness required to keep our fitness up to the level.
Your coach Jaswant Rai reportedly said how you spend a lot of time doing meditation and Yoga. Tell us something about that how it has helped you improve your game.
Arshdeep: I have learned that aggression should be visible in our performance, but every athlete should look calm and composed from the outside. Earlies, I used to panic a lot, and my aggression was visible on my face, but Jaswant sir introduced me to Yoga and meditation, which helped me attain the kind of composure we need at the bigger stage of the game. Whenever I get time now, I spend a lot of time doing meditation and Yoga. I would recommend every young cricketer to implement the same in their lifestyle.
Mr Rai also shared how your mother used to ride you on a cycle to take you to the club. How were those days?
Arshdeep: I believe everyone has gone through such a period. Most cricketers have started from scratch and gone through hard times in their life. But, today, when I look back to my struggling days, I cherish those moments and feel lucky to experience that. My mother has been the pillar of my life, and she taught me all the valuable lessons which I implement now in my life. But, I was always happy with my life, even then I used to enjoy my cricket, and today also I am doing the same thing. Cricket has been my life, and it always is.