For Mumbai's Wasim Jaffer, who has been touted as a promising opening batsman for quite some time now, it was a childhood dream come true when he was picked in the Indian team for the first Test match of the series against South Africa at Mumbai. Success has not come easily for this former Anjuman-I-Islam lad. It does seem to be a long time, since that magnificent triple-century against Saurashtra in his debut season (1996-97). For this young man, from a humble background, it has indeed been a long hard climb. Here are excerpts of an exclusive interview that Wasim Jaffer gave S Kishore, after his inclusion in the Indian Test team.
On his inclusion in the Indian team.
I was very happy to hear my name in the team, as like any other youngster, it was a dream of mine to play for the country. I was expecting it in a way, especially after the Indian opener, S Ramesh pulled out of the three-day match with an injury. I knew then that if I performed well, I would probably get selected in the Test team.
On facing upto the South African pace attack.
The South African pace attack of Donald, Hayward, Klusener and Kallis was probably the best I have played in my career so far. They are very difficult to get away, especially with the new ball. It is tough facing up to someone like Donald who has 290 wickets in Test cricket. In the first innings, I had the difficult job of seeing the new ball off and after spending about 90 minutes at the crease and scoring 12 runs, I was growing in confidence when I got a ball from Klusener which I thought got a faint nick from the pad. But, the Umpire thought otherwise and that was that.
On the pressures of living upto expectations
Considering that the South Africans have one of the toughest bowling attacks in the world, I was a little apprehensive to start with. After I spent some time in the middle, I grew in confidence. It is not easy getting runs against this attack. They do not give anything away. But I am determined to put in my best effort and do well for my country. It will be a challenging job to do well against this South African team.
On his more confident knock in the second essay.
The time I spent in the middle in the first innings, playing about 16 overs, made me confident of playing Donald and company. But it was not very easy, considering the fact that the wicket was two paced. There were no easy pickings and I had to wait for the loose deliveries to score. I was happy, considering this, with my knock in the second innings.
On how he plans to counter the Proteas in his debut Test match.
I do not have any specific plan/target as such, but I will try my level best to get runs against this attack. It will be very challenging and it will give me a lot of satisfaction if I am able to perform well against this team. I am hoping that we play well and win the series.
On whether he has had any role models.
When I started playing in 1988-89, I used to watch cricket on television and saw Sunil Gavaskar and Vivian Richards play. Everyone in my family loved cricket. My father, my brothers and I used to watch television and get inspired by them. But I have not had any particular role model, whom I have followed since childhood. I really liked Sunil Gavaskar, Viv Richards and now I like Sachin Tendulkar and Steve Waugh.
On the strength and support that his family has been
My parents and my brothers have always encouraged me to play the game and succeed. It was my father's dream too, that I play for the country one day. My brother, Kalim has been my coach and guide throughout. He has always been there, whenever I needed him. In fact, whatever I am today is because of him. All my other coaches have also helped. My father and mother are now in Mecca, on a pilgrimage to Haj. They would have heard the news by now and would be very happy for me. I want to do well and succeed to make them happy.
Copyright S Kishore
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