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Karnataka defeated Maharashtra on Sunday to lift their seventh Ranji Trophy title. Karnataka wicketkeeper CM Gautam, who finished the season with 43 dismissals, beating Maharashtra stumper Rohit Motwani by one dismissal, spoke to Nishad Pai Vaidya after their title triumph.
CM Gautam looked overjoyed as he addressed the reporters at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad. Obviously, he was happy because his side had won the Ranji Trophy 2013-14, but there was more to it. Gautam was one of the eight members of the current Karnataka side that lost the 2009-10 final against Mumbai by six runs. Gautam was one of the highest run-getters last season and has also impressed with his wicketkeeping skills.
CricketCountry (CC): Last season you scored quite a few runs. What was the difference in your batting?
CM Gautam (CMG): I batted up the order during the last season. I had more time to adjust to the situation, the pitch etc. However, this year, I had a few technical problems initially in the league stages. My head was falling away and my leg was coming across. Before the quarter-finals, I really worked on my game and I played a crucial knock against Uttar Pradesh at Bangalore. From there on, I started batting well again. That is the difference; only a minor technical change.
CC: How did you overcome that particular technical problem?
CMG: I kept watching a lot of videos. I was getting lbw. So, I went back to my personal coach and we had five days before the quarter-final and I really worked hard with him. I started batting two sessions in a day. And then, I got the runs.
CC: Batting aside, you have kept well for a few seasons. On the final day at Hyderabad, you took a splendid catch to dismiss Rohit Motwami. What are the areas you work on as a wicketkeeper?
CMG: I take a lot of reflex catches. The coach gives me catches with the baseball clubs, where the ball comes really quickly to you. That has really helped me. Even in the last season, I got about 35 dismissals. It has been really helpful. Even the broomstick catches they give me. All that is helping my confidence going into the game.
CC: You were with the India Emerging Side in Austrralia. How much did that experience of playing on different tracks help you?
CMG: Yes, I had a very good series in Australia and I got two fifties there. It really helped my confidence as I started believing there that ‘Yes, I belong at this level and I can play for the country. That is where I started believing as I played good bowlers there on seaming conditions and bouncy tracks. And when I did well, I felt ‘Oh yes, I have a good chance of playing for the country now.’
CC: You were a part of the Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2013. How important is an IPL for someone like you, doing well in domestic cricket and waiting for higher honours?
CMG: Yes, it is a good platform to showcase your talent because everyone would be watching. Everyone is watching you and you do well in two games and get recognized. Being there (Delhi Daredevils dressing room) really helped me. Working with people like TA Sekar, Eric Simmons and being with Virender Sehwag, Mahela Jayawardene helped me as I kept asking them questions. They just told me to enjoy the game and keep things simple; work hard and everything will fall in place.
CC: You were a part of the 2009-10 final, where Karnataka lost to Mumbai by six runs. This must feel like redemption…
CMG: The loss in 2009-10 still hurt. Even today we were talking about it and it did hurt. But after four years, it feels great to win and it is great to be a part of this setup, a brilliant team.
CC: There still is a season ahead with the one-dayers, IPL etc. Your plans for that…
CMG: First of all, we would focus on the Irani Trophy, which would start in a couple of days’ time. After that, the one-dayers are coming up, and I am keen on practicing a few strokes. When I played for Delhi last season, I had a long chat with my coach and he told me a couple of things, which I think I should start doing before the one-dayers and not now. I do have plans for the one-dayers and T20s.
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