~ The destructive wicketkeeper batsman spoke on a variety of topics including what he asked MS Dhoni during a recent conversation ~

Ramnagar (Uttarakhand), 03 September 2021: The first phase of IPL 2021 did not just bring a smile to millions of viewers around the world, but was also special for Ramnagar’s Anuj Rawat and his family as the young wicketkeeper batsman finally made his debut in the IPL. The 21-year-old played a crucial role on the field for the Rajasthan Royals with three outstanding catches in their 55-run victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad, and along with spending time with his family and friends in his hometown, Anuj is now gearing up for a big rendition in the UAE.

“I was really happy that I could make my IPL debut for the Royals. It was unfortunate that the season was postponed but given our current position in terms of being fifth on the table, I think it puts us in good stead with respect to the resumption in the UAE,” expressed the youngster who represents Delhi in domestic cricket.

“Remembering that some of our players had to depart and some were unavailable for most part of the competition, I believe it was a good overall performance from our team, and we are really confident of making the most of the next seven matches and give ourselves the best chance of making it to the playoffs,” he added.

Recollecting what led him to his debut, Anuj said persisting with full focus and energy in practice sessions paid dividends. “I just had one thing in my mind, to give my 100% always. I was putting in a lot of hard work in the practice sessions. I had confidence in myself, and deep down, I had a feeling that I’ll get my chance when we go to the Delhi-leg of our matches because it’s my home stadium and I am well accustomed to those conditions.”

“When Sanga told me that I would be starting, it felt nice, and I was really motivated to go out there and do my best for the team. Now I’m looking forward to doing the same things again in the UAE, and help the team in whatever way I can, whether it’s on the field or with the bat,” added the talented youngster who also believes that “the wickets in UAE really suit his batting, having experienced the conditions with the Royals in 2020.”

A big fan of MS Dhoni, Anuj had the chance to speak to the Indian legend during RR’s match against CSK in Mumbai earlier this year, and disclosed what the chat was about. “I’ve been fortunate enough to have spoken to him a couple of times. This time I just asked him about what he meant when he said in an interview that an athlete should be honest with him/herself, to which he replied by saying that an athlete should be honest with himself in terms of knowing what he’s doing right and what he’s doing wrong. In essence, it meant that if you are feeling lazy one day and skip a training session, then you should know that it’s wrong, and that you’re the one who’s responsible for cheating your body,” stated Anuj.

Throwing light on how he managed to keep himself fit post the IPL, Anuj said, “I had come back to my hometown of Ramnagar, and was able to do a bit of outdoor training initially, and when things started easing out, I was able to further pick up pace with my training. I eventually went to Delhi, and was more focused on my strength training at first, and slowly shifted to other areas including core, glutes and thighs which are essential if you’re a wicketkeeper, and also for power-hitting.”

Having represented India at the U-19 level, helping them win the U-19 Asia Cup in 2018, Anuj says he’s not looking too far ahead and wants to focus on the upcoming IPL and domestic season. “My main focus is on the next seven matches in the IPL with the Royals, which are really important for the team and for myself. Post that, I’ll be focused on both red ball and white ball cricket, because if you perform well, there is scope for you to really progress and make a case to the selectors.”

Signing off, Anuj also wished Rajasthan Royals’ sister franchise Barbados Royals “the very best for the ongoing CPL season” and called the acquisition “a huge moment for the Royals family.”