The Services\' batsman, currently part of the India A squad, speaks to Cricketnext about the honour of donning the national jersey.
New Delhi: Services' batsman Rajat Paliwal is on a high. Recently, he was named in the India A squad for the ongoing series against West Indies A, thus becoming the first Services cricket to make it to a representative national side in 15 years. The 21-year-old, who in a first-class career of 15 matches has stacked up 995 runs at an average of 55.80, including four centuries and four fifties, is hoping to be named in the XI for the first four-day game against West Indies A to be played in Mysore.
Excepts from Paliwal's interview with Cricketnext...
Did you expect the call up?
Honestly, yes. Somehow I had an idea that I may get a call for the series against West Indies A. I have been really working hard and finally got the result. Recently, I have played a number of tournaments and have scored runs too. I am in good touch.
Are you excited?
Yes, of course. It's like a dream come true for me. I just cannot wait to don the India jersey. The saying is absolutely true that hard work always pays and it has for me. Theres a new feeling now. Representing India will be totally different. It will be another stage of my life. The entire credit goes to my coach and seniors who have guided me on and off field. Without them it wouldn't have been possible.
How have your preparations been?
I am spending a lot of time in the nets. I practice for five to six hours every day and also take care of my fitness. I am consulting my physio during practice sessions. My coaches are helping me with batting tips that I am executing properly. I am moving to Bangalore and then will move to Mysore for the series. My senior Yashpal bhai who has also represented in the IPL and my mentor Deepak Sir have been really helpful.
You will be playing against a formidable West Indies side, who are comparatively stronger in the shorter format. What is your take on this?
West Indies are a strong side. The best quality in them is that they can bounce back at any point of the game. Though they are pretty strong in the shorter formats, we will not take them lightly. I have seen their game. They have got a solid pace attack and their bowlers are the key to winning them a game. I am sweating out at nets and facing lots of deliveries.
You will be playing under Cheteshwar Pujara. Did you talk to him after your selection?
I am really excited to play for India and Pujara too. I have seen his game. He is an amazing player on the field. He is calm, composed and bats brilliantly. I haven't spoken to him yet but would definitely speak to him before our match and take batting lessons from him.
Pujara will also be leading Saurashtra, who are in Group B along with Services, in the upcoming Ranji Trophy season. How do you see this season faring?
I will be playing under him against West Indies A and in the Ranji Trophy we both will be playing against each other. I just want to play my game against a strong West Indies side. This will be great chance to judge Cheteshwar as well. I will get to know his game closely and try to know him as a person too. He has played well in domestic cricket and for India too. Now he has emerged as a one of the best Test batsmen. I will try to learn from him and also try to apply those things when I will play against him in the Ranji Trophy.