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My batting is influenced by my role in the team: Shivnarine Chanderpaul

Jamshedpur: Shivnarine Chanderpaul is surely a West Indian with a difference, both on and off the field. A key player for some years, the 32-year-old (top-scorer during the just-ended Test series) spoke to The Telegraph at The Regent Tuesday evening.

The following are excerpts

On the early influences

Growing up, I hardly got to see any big-time cricket and, in any case, I donít recall live telecasts. And, so, the biggest influences were my father (Khemraj) and chacha (Munilal). Both were very enthusiastic cricketers. While my father was a specialist batsman, my chacha was a wicketkeeper. Both, incidentally, were right-handers.

On his idol

(Grins) Because I hardly saw big-time cricket, I didnít have one... However, my father was keen that I be like Alvin Kallicharran.

On almost a decade of international cricket

Itís been decent, but I could have done better... Indeed, I should have.

On why he hasnít done as well as he should have

Injuries have definitely played a part... Being in and out, obviously, is never helpful.

On getting the first of his six Test hundreds after almost three years

(Grins again) Donít know why... Was I relieved when I did get that maiden hundred (against India, in 1996-97)' Absolutely, it was a weight off my shoulders. The pressure was off...

On what has he learnt in nearly a decade of international cricket

That one has to be committed, that one must be disciplined ó on and off the field. Also, that one must have that hunger and determination.

On whether he sets goals

I donít, for the simple reason you never know whatís going to happen tomorrow.

On being labelled a grafter

My batting is influenced by my role in the team ó which currently is that of a stayer. Given a chance, though, I can accelerate. In fact, whatever the role, Iím comfortable. An individual is only one of 11 in a team, therefore he has to mould his game according to its requirements.

On his approach to batting

The same as the other batters... Get a start and, then, build on it.

On whether he envies any one batsman

Oh no... One shouldnít be jealous or envious... Everybody has some talent and the individual in question should make the most of that. Nobody can ever stop you from getting better.

On whether he admires any one contemporary

Iím not going to take names, but Iím the sort to admire fighters... Guys who will give everything to get the team out of a sticky situation.

On whether the high expectations have been putting him under more than the customary pressure

Everybody is under pressure, Iím not the only one... Besides needing to improve generally, we do need to work hard on the fielding. Our lapses cost us heavy during the Test series.

On his phenomenal concentration

Actually, itís not easy, not when you are playing at the Eden... The crowd, the noise... Itís a huge test... Personally, Iíve been helped by God and meditation. My Guruji (Vidyanandji Maharaj) has given some mantras and, at times, Iíve even meditated on the field. Essentially, itís remembering the mantras. Thatís true meditation.

On whether he is conscious of averages

Wouldnít say so but, yes, I do look to improving. A batsman shouldnít stagnate.

On the future

Donít know... I take things as they come as, really, who knows what will happen tomorrow or next week'

On interests outside cricket

But, whereís the time' If I do manage some, I would love to catch up on studies... After all, because of cricket, I couldnít even complete my schooling.

On heroes outside cricket

My Guruji... Heís made a difference to my life.

On who is most religious in his family

Everybody... From a very early age itself, my father and mother (Uma) instilled in me that one must believe in and have faith in Lord Shiva. Itís been so since. (Adds after a pause) My wife (Amy) also worships Shiva. Did we have a traditional Hindu wedding' We did, with the priest taking centrestage.

Finally, on his emotions every time he tours India

That Lord Shiva is from these parts makes me feel good... Thereís that bonding with God... Then, our roots are somewhere in India.

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