There are plenty of similarities between Pakistan’s Sohail Tanvir and India’s Ashish Nehra. Besides being left-arm pacemen, both are highly talented bowlers. Despite being injury-prone, both remain vital cogs in their teams’ shorter format squads. And it’s very difficult to leave them out of the team when they are fit.
Injury has troubled Tanvir during the last two years. After an operation on his left knee, he remained out of the action for one and a half years. He then toured New Zealand only to be sidelined again as the team management felt that he was not cent percent fit. That same injury didn’t allow him to be the part of the side in the World Cup despite being named in the Pakistan squad in the first place.
After playing the domestic season for the last few months, the left-arm pacer with wrong-footed bowling action, forced the selectors to have a look at him. He has now been named in the limited overs Pakistan squad to tour Zimbabwe which would start later this month.
Tanvir talked to Zeecric.com’s Biswajit Jha over the phone from his Rawalpindi home and shared his frustrations of being sidelined for so long due to the career-threatening injury and the prospects of playing international cricket for Pakistan again.
What is your latest injury status? Have you completely recovered from your injury?
I am perfectly okay now. I have been playing the domestic season for the last couple of months. I even led my team to the domestic T20 championship. So far, all is going well for me. I am in good form and feeling good with my bowling rhythm.
That means you have no chance of breaking down with an injury midway through a series?
I hope that it won’t happen again. But you can’t be sure. Injuries are a part and parcel of any sportsman’s life.
What’s the reason that the injury is recurring again and again?
Actually, during my childhood I used to play cricket on roads. Besides that, the pitches are very hard in the sub-continent. These factors must have taken a toll on my knees.
Do you think that your unorthodox bowling action could be the reason behind your injury?
Maybe my action has played a role. I think it’s the combination of both-playing on the hard tracks and my bowling action.
Have you undergone any changes in the your bowling action during these periods?
No no, not at all. I don’t want to change my action. I can’t change it at this juncture of my career. You can bring little changes but not the wholesome changes in your action.
What went wrong during New Zealand tour?
I had a major surgery on my left knee. I was out of cricket for 18 months. Then I went to New Zealand. There I had a slight problem. The team management thought it was better that I recovered fully before taking the pressure of international cricket. They were right in their decision. Now that I am fit I hope that the story won’t repeat again.
Injury forced you out of World Cup. How did you feel?
I was really disheartened. But the bottom-line is if you are injured you can’t play…that’s it.
What is your immediate goal?
My first goal is to cement my place in the Pakistan national team.
How was it to remain out of the team for so long?
Can’t tell you…it’s really hard to be away from cricket. It’s very difficult to be out of cricket for eighteen months…it was so disheartening. Finally, I am back...I hope that injury doesn’t come back to haunt me again in the future.
Who are the people that supported you during the injury lay-off?
The cricket board helped me a lot…It was a tough period for me. There was a time when I was thinking that my career was over. But it was my family, my friends, members of the cricket board who kept egging me on. Coach Waqar Younis also helped me a lot. He kept saying that I would definitely come back to the national team. He also encouraged me to work harder and kept faith in me.
What are the major lessons you`ve learned during this period?
I hope you see me more matured. Now, I am one of the senior members of the team. I have to take responsibility as a senior.
You played only two Tests so far. And in those two Tests you did not perform well. People say that though you are a good limited overs player, you are not good enough for Tests. What are you doing to improve you performance in Tests?
I have played only two Tests in India back in 2007. It’s very difficult to perform in India as a fast bowler. Indian pitches are batting paradises.
But after that India tour I did not get any chance of playing Tests. Unfortunately, I got injured. Now that I am back, I really want to perform well in Tests. I want to establish myself as a good Test cricketer besides being a good ODI and T20 player. I have done well in the three-day and four-day matches in the first class cricket. So it’s just a matter of getting opportunities of playing in Tests.
What about your batting? When you came into the international scene, you were a good allrounder but your performance with the bat at the international cricket is not that good…
To be very honest, I did not get enough chance to showcase my talent with the bat. We have so many allrounders in our team- Afridi, Abdul Razzak. When they are in the team, I come to bat at No. 9 or 10 which is a very difficult position to show your worth as a batsman. If you see my record at the recently concluded domestic tournament, it’s really good. That’s because I batted at No. 5 or 6. So, it’s only a matter of getting chance to bat at proper position. I hope that I will get more chances with the bat in future. I have also worked hard on my batting during the injury lay-off.
How do you see yourself; as a bowler or as an allrounder?
I am a fast bowler first who can bat; basically, a bowling allrounder.
How difficult is it to be a swing bowler in these parts of the world?
If you see the history of the fast bowling legends, you will find out that it’s the swing bowlers who were more successful in comparison to genuine fast bowlers. Guys like Wasim bhai, McGrath, Shaun Pollock…they were not express fast bowlers.
Yes I agree that it’s very difficult to be a seam bowler in the sub-continent. Because of the nature of the pitches it’s very difficult to get seam movements off the wicket. But it’s the charm of cricket…you have to work really hard to get wickets. I will be happy if I am swinging the ball at around 130kmp/h. I think I can trouble almost all the batsmen.
You were the highest wicket-taker in the inaugural edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Share some of your experiences with us…
It was the moment of my life. I enjoyed a lot in India. I learned a lot from other senior guys. It was really fun.
You said after leading your domestic team that your captaincy is inspired by Shane Warne. What are the things that Warne does it differently?
Actually, I was talking about T20 because I was appointed a T20 team’s captain. Shane Warne has this unique quality to surprise the opposition. Even while bowling, he used tell me that you have to surprise the batsmen to get wickets. He has something new every time he walked out to play cricket. If you watch Rajasthan Royals’ matches, you will see a different game-plan for every match, different strategy for every over.
How did you feel when none of the Pakistan cricketers were considered for the 2nd edition of the IPL?
It was not up to the players or board. It was a decision taken by the countries. We had nothing to do with it. But I will love to play IPL again. Cricket is the only thing which can make the two countries come closer. If Pakistan and India play each other, the people of the two countries will definitely come closer. I think the governments of both the countries should think about resuming the cricketing ties.