The amount of time Mukesh Kumar spent in domestic cricket helped him understand how much he still needed to do to scale the highest level.
Impressive performances, particularly in the Ranji Trophy, went a fair way to win the Bengal pacer his maiden India A and Team India call-up (for home ODIs versus South Africa) last year. Mukesh still awaits his international debut, but he had the feel of the IPL, representing Delhi Capitals in his debut season this year.
Following the IPL, he accompanied the Indian team as one of the standbys for the recent World Test Championship final at The Oval.
Figures-wise, Mukesh didn’t have an exceptional IPL, taking seven wickets from 10 appearances. But the experience he has gained in the Delhi franchise, followed by the time in England with Team India members, keeps him in a “wonderful” state of mind.
“I’ve gone through pressure situations in domestic cricket as well. But I have to admit that the IPL is a totally different beast. At times it seems as if the pressure there is greater than how it is in international cricket.
“You are playing against a team having several good batters, which may not always be the case in international cricket. Even if I make early inroads, I might still be expensive as there are other quality batters lined up in the rival team. So you have to be on your toes all the time as there’s absolutely no room for relaxation.
“Now that I’ve gone through the grind, I feel I’ll be sharper not just in the next IPL, but also in the matches I’ll play in the remainder of the year,” Mukesh told The Telegraph on Thursday.
The 29-year-old though did contribute in one of the Capitals’ wins, getting his yorkers and wide yorkers right to successfully defend 13 off the final over against Sunrisers Hyderabad back in April.
As for his learnings while with the Indian team in England, Mukesh said: “Apart from rubbing shoulders with the big names and listening to what the coaching staff used to say, I worked on that delivery on the fourth-stump line which usually creates confusion on the batsman’s mind — whether he needs to play the ball or let it go.
“I spoke with bowling coach Paras (Mhambrey) Sir about it... Hope I can execute it better going forward. Besides, I tried to make the most of the training sessions there as this was an opportunity I just couldn’t let go of.”
Selected in the East Zone squad for the upcoming Duleep Trophy, Mukesh is also in contention for a place in India’s squad for the West Indies Tests next month. “If it (India selection) happens, it’s good, although I’m not thinking about it.”