Menaria keen to use IPL platform to impress national selectors

Jaipur: Rajasthan middle-order batsman Ashok Menaria said he is eager to make a mark for his franchise, Rajasthan Royals during the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League, commencing in Chennai on April 4, and push his case for the national team.

"IPL provides a big platform to all the players and I too wish to perform well this season and get a ticket to the Indian cricket team," said Menaria.

"I`m not aiming for the slot in the Indian team for the upcoming World T20 (in Sri Lanka) but my dream, like all other young cricketers, is to play for the country," he added.

Menaria, a former India Under-19 skipper, had scored a double hundred against Railways in the Ranji Trophy before he was forced to sit out of the tournament in the latter half of the season due to a groin injury.

The left-hander, however, said that he did not rue missing out on a few matches in the domestic season.

"It was unfortunate that I was forced out due to my groin strain and had to undergo an operation in Germany in February. But I`m 100 per cent fit now and raring to go.

"Though missing out on matches when I was in good form was unfortunate, I don`t feel it was bad luck. In fact, it taught me how to cope with the bad times," he said.

When asked if his double hundred against Railways on a difficult track during the Ranji Trophy had established him as a seasoned batsman and whether he would be eager to build on that image, the 21-year-old said that he preferred to play his natural game.

"I like to bat in an aggressive manner. My double hundred also had come in 200 balls. Whatever is the format, I bat in my natural style.

"Even my (Rajasthan Royals) skipper Rahul Dravid has told me to play my natural game," said Menaria, who idolizes Virender Sehwag.

Dispelling fears that the Royals appear to be an aged side considering that they have the likes of Paul Collingwood, Brad Hogg, Brad Hodge, Owais Shah, Johan Botha and Dravid, who are around 40, in their ranks, Menaria said, "Just have a look at the averages and strike rates of the likes of Hogg and Hodge. Botha too has amassed around 2000 runs.

"I feel we have the best experienced hands with us. Dravid and Shane Warne both are legends of the game and the former has been managing his resources quite well in latter`s absence."

Refusing to concede that Warne was a more aggressive skipper than Dravid, Menaria said that both were great cricketers.

"Shane Warne had his own style but Rahul too motivates his teammates. As far as the aggressiveness is considered, Rahul is cool and composed but aggressive in mind."

Talking about the Royals` first match against Kings XI Punjab on April 6, Menaria said his team was extremely focused.

"The first match is always an important one and if you win your confidence soars and the body language is different. I am ready bat at any number as per the game plan of the team. We have played a number of practice matches as those provide more stimulation that nets."

Menaria also claimed that the Royals were capable of emulating their feat of the first IPL when they surprised one and all by lifting the trophy.

He though felt that Chennai Super Kings were toughest side in the fray.

"It is the domestic players who form the nucleus of any team. They (Chennai Super Kings) have a set of best domestic players, which makes them a formidable unit. It is the domestic players who lend more strength to any team in the IPL," he insisted.


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