Chennai: At the start of the IPL-9, Pawan Negi was carrying a heavy burden — the tag of being the costliest Indian purchase at Rs 8.5 crore — on his shoulders in the Delhi Daredevils dugout. In a span of two months, the million dollar buy turned out to be the biggest flop.
With all eyes on him, Negi wanted to do a lot more than justifying the faith of the Daredevils management. But all the 23-year-old all-rounder could do was bowl nine overs in eight matches, taking just one wicket and scoring 57 runs.
In a chat with this newspaper, Negi opened up on the tough times he endured during the IPL-9.
Did the disappointing season affect you emotionally?
Sitting on the bench was hard to digest as I never expected to watch the action from the sidelines. I was mentally down, but I didn’t lose hope. After the season, T.A. Sekhar and our manager Sunil Valson pepped me up saying that I didn’t get enough opportunities to showcase my abilities.
The hardest part was, before every match, I had no clue whether I would play or not. People kept asking me why I didn’t play much. I didn’t have a proper answer. I don’t read newspapers and I’m not active on social media.
What did the Delhi team management tell you after you were snapped up for a whopping price?
It was never about money. The team management said not to get weighed down by the price tag and the pressure that comes with. Coach Rahul Dravid told me to stick to my natural instincts.
He wanted me to perform like I was doing in the Chennai colours for the last two years. I was excited to play for Delhi, my home. I wanted to perform well and ensure I get selected for the Zimbabwe series.
What went wrong for you then?
I still don’t know. I kept wondering why wasn’t I given more opportunities. And the team management didn’t tell me the reason either. When I was with Chennai Super Kings (CSK), Mahi bhai backed my abilities. Maybe, I feel Delhi didn’t back my skills with bat and ball. Maybe, it was a rotation policy, because I was never told that I was dropped.
I was told that it was sort of a combination. Though I’m a very positive person, I would say this IPL ended on a negative note for me. I wasn’t surprised a bit that I didn’t make the cut for the Zimbabwe series because I didn’t perform well in the IPL. Now, I will practice hard for the upcoming Ranji season.
Did you have a conversation with skipper Zaheer Khan?
I was about to ask why I wasn’t playing regularly ahead of our last two matches. But to my surprise, I was picked in the XI. However, I never wanted to go and ask Zaheer ‘Can I bowl?’. He is such an experienced cricketer and he knew his job. I felt it should be something to do with the strategy.
Suresh Raina is a great friend of mine.
When we played against Gujarat, Raina told me not to sulk and kept saying that I can overcome this. Even during my stint with the Indian team, he backed me a lot....