Calm Bawne reaping the rewards of Dravid's tutelage
VADODARA: Ankit Bawne is unperturbed by the fact that the opening two rounds of Group B matches in the Vijay Hazare Trophy here have been washed out soggy outfield caused by unseasonal rains.
Sitting inside the hotel room with an occasional indoor nets might be frustrating, especially if you are an Indian cricketer looking to breakthrough to the national team, but Bawne is relaxed and exudes a quiet confidence.
Bawne's happy equilibrium is a result of having been part of the India 'A' set up for over two years and a run-filled outing in the Duleep Trophy to kick-start the season in the immediate past.
"I feel India 'A' is a very good level. You get to play with international teams. Now I feel I belong to that level and I have done well in the big games," the 26-year-old says, in between sips of coffee and digs into chocolate pastry.
"The basic thing I have learnt is the start is very important. What used to happen in my case is that, whenever I got a hundred the next innings I used to bat as if I am already on hundred.
"What I have learnt is that I have to start from zero and there is a process to build an innings. First 20-25 balls are very crucial. No matter what double hundred you have got in the previous innings, you have to start from zero. Even if it is Day 2 of a game, I have to start as if from Day 1.
"And you don't feel fatigued and tired. When you keep thinking about previous scores and what you did yesterday, it unnecessarily puts some burden on your head. If you go with this mindset, you feel blank and easy."
The 26-year-old from Aurangabad, clad in white round-neck that is struggling to cover the ever-bulging biceps and knee-length shorts, made a composed 21 not out in the opening game for India Blue and followed it up with an unbeaten 121 in the Duleep Trophy in Karnataka last month.
"The first game got washed out but I batted around 100 balls and got 21 not out on a challenging wicket," he said. "I really enjoyed that innings. Everyone was getting out and I was playing comfortably. I just felt I was in zone.
"So, the next game was on a better track and against very good bowlers. I never thought about getting a hundred. I just wanted to enjoy, wanted to react to the ball.
"It's early in the season and you don't know what to do. First three games you don't know how to build a season and all. You just want to play maximum number of balls so that you can find your touch. You don't have to look for balls and runs later on in the season.
"I was hitting very well that eventually I got a hundred. It was one of the best innings that I (have) played. There was no chances, no half-shots. It was like I was having open nets."
The serenity that oozes through his words is a result of being under the tutelage of Rahul Dravid, whose emphasis on the mental aspect of the game is well known.
"If you talk about Rahul (Dravid) sir, they function totally differently. They won't tell you to change anything in your technique. They will only help you on mental aspect, they will tell you only the good things, things which help you become a better cricketer, a better batter," Bawne said.
"It makes a lot of difference. The way you prepare, the way you look at the game, nerves and the way you handle the game. You don't feel the pressure, you stay calm and focussed.
"I feel that you play your best only when you are calm. Sometimes you think that a batter has so much time. I think it's mental. Because he is so calm in his head, that's why he is reacting late. And he is getting more time.
"But it happens only with experience. Initially (with India 'A'), I was thinking this is my chance and I have to do this and that.
"People say you get your chance only once, it doesn't work like that. If you keep performing you will get your chances."