Dhawal Kulkarni played his last international match against Zimbabwe in July last year. (Photo: AFP)
Mumbai: Gujarat Lions bowler Dhawal Kulkarni is in a happy zone. Not only has the 27-year-old Mumbai lad picked up his best IPL figures (4-14 against RCB on Tuesday), but his gigantic improvement in bowling has also earned him a place in the India squad for the tour of Zimbabwe which will commence on June 11.
MS Dhoni will lead a second-string team that will play three ODIs and three T20s at the Harare Sports Club.
It feels great to be back. It’s been a long time since I played last for India. I am really happy that I got picked and I would like to do better," Kulkarni, who played his last international match against the African nation in July, last year, said on Wednesday.
However, Kulkarni is keen to earn Dhoni's confidence but also points out that it won’t be a bed of roses.
If the skipper feels that I am his strike bowler then I have to give that confidence to him. You won’t get it straight away because I have to do well and keep working hard. I have to bowl well in the nets and that’s how he will get that confidence. It will be good if he can get that confidence early and I am sure that will happen," Kulkarni, who is also the fourth leading wicket-taker for Mumbai in this year’s Ranji season, added.
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So what has gone in his favour this season that has earned Kulkarni so many accolades?
I just keep my mind clear and back myself while bowling. There is no other option for me than backing myself and just be aggressive. I have not made any changes, just stuck to my basics and tried bowling hard in the nets. I have practiced hard throughout the season and that has paid off."
Sharing his experience playing in Zimbabwe, Kulkarni said, "The conditions are pretty much favourable for bowlers in the first hour but later on the wicket becomes flat and it’s good for the batsmen. I have to make most of the new ball."
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Kulkarni, who has spent plenty of time on the field with his Mumbai teammate Shardul Thakur was elated to hear of the latter’s maiden call-up to the India Test team for the West Indies tour scheduled to take place somewhere between July-August.
Shardul was this Ranji season’s highest wicket-taker with 41 wickets in 11 matches with an economy rate of 2.75.
I am very happy for him. He has done a lot of hard work and has picked up many wickets for Mumbai in the last two. He has become a different bowler now with the experience. I love to bowl with him and love his mindset. We really work well in tandem," Kulkarni said.
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Did he also expect his name in the Test squad? "If I do well like how I have been doing in the IPL, I am sure I might get a call," he said.
Kulkarni deems his stock delivery lies in hitting a good length and getting movement off the seam but is uncertain whether the delivery will work in Zimbabwe.
"It depends on the pitches. Last time the pitches were different. I don’t know how the pitches are going to be this time. If the conditions are helpful, it might go in my favour," he added.