Exclusive | Currently focusing only on my batting; aim to regain full fitness ahead of IPL 2023: Venkatesh Iyer

Jagruti Panda: KKR all-rounder Venkatesh Iyer is arguably a special talent and possesses all-round capabilities to change the dynamics of the game single-handedly. The prolific all-rounder had a terrific IPL 2021 season – amassing 370 runs in 10 matches at an average of 41.11 – capped with a couple of match winning knocks.

The expectations were high from 6 ft. Knight failed to perform up to the reputation – 182 runs in 12 Innings. After an average IPL season, the Madhya Pradesh all-rounder had also suffered a severe ankle fracture last year and missed out on a lot of on field action. In an exclusive interaction with The Quotes’ Jagruti Panda, Venkatesh Iyer spoke at length about his recovery process, preparations for IPL 2023, having Chandrakant Pandit sir in KKR camp and more. Excerpts of the conversation.  

You had undergone a severe ankle injury in 2022 and had a long rehab process at the NCA. Tell us about the recovery process. How did you manage to overcome the injury horror?

I had a severe ankle injury and my ankle joint got dislocated. The injury kept me away from cricket for four months. I would like to thank the doctors at the NCA who helped me to recover soon. I don’t let injury scare affect me. I am taking it slow and currently focusing on gaining 100% fitness. I may not be able to concentrate on bowling right now, I want to proceed slowly and steadily without aggravating the injury further.

You are currently one of the most dynamic all-rounders in Indian cricket. Last year didn’t go as you would have wanted; how did you manage to cook with the setbacks?

I don’t see this as a setback. As always, I always love to touch and stick to the basics of cricket. Rather than the results and outcomes, I always believe in the process of what I am putting into the game. I don’t think much about the past or future. I always enjoy the present moment. As long as I’m enjoying the process, I’m not afraid of any setbacks.

IPL has become more intense with two new teams and the competition has reached to another level. Tell us something about your preparation for the new season.

As I said that I am only concentrating on achieving full fitness and all my sessions are in the same direction. I am not indulging into bowling sessions but hitting lots of balls at nets. I want to hone my batting skills as of now.

Since our Indian test squad hardly features any regular pace all-rounder, do you see this as an opportunity to cement your place in red ball cricket?

By god’s grace, I’m equally good in all the three departments – batting, bowling and fielding – I am not picky. Whatever opportunity comes my way I’m ready to contribute 100% to the team and my captain puts me in whichever role, I will give it my 100%. I don’t mind batting in any position for the team in any format.

You have worked closely with Chandrakant Pandit sir and now he will be the head coach of KKR. How do you see the rappo evolving with Pandit Sir in April 2023. Please let us know about how his approach will help in value addition to kick your franchisee.

I feel quite fortunate to have closely worked with Chandrakant Pandit sir. He has achieved impeccable records in the domestic circuit. Madhya Pradesh won the Ranji Trophy for the first time under him and our team has also started performing well in T20 formats.

I feel so ecstatic that now he is getting the opportunity to showcase his vastly rich domestic experience on such a huge platform in the IPL. He won’t perform for us on the field but off the field his tactics and his work ethics will reflect positively in the performances of KKR.

How’s your rapport with Bharat Arun sir?  How do you bond with him?

He is a true believer. He has shown a lot of faith in me and my bowling. Today the Indian bowling lineup as we see which is performing exceptionally well the credit for it goes to Bharat Arun Sir. His role has been truly instrumental for team India as well as Kolkata knight riders.

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Yo Yo Test and DEXA scan have been made mandatory criteria for the selection. Does this new selection process make the road to gaining a place in team India challenging? Do share your opinion on it.

As long as you are playing cricket, one should not think about the number of fitness tests you have to give to get into the selection. You should be ready to give 100% on the field on any given day and at any moment. Fitness tests are part of the procedures.

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How will you react if you get an opportunity to run out the batter at non-striker end?

I will not take that opportunity and neither will I warn the batter

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