Dubai (UAE), 12 September 2021: A bond that is deeper than cricket, Rajasthan Royals’ stylish batter Manan Vohra and young sensation Mayank Markande aren’t just teammates on the field, but they also happen to be really close friends off it. The two end up having honest discussions about various things and topics, and Saturday evening witnessed a similar scenario when the two Punjab-based cricketers were in conversation ahead of the remainder of IPL 2021 season.
Speaking from their hotel in Dubai, Manan started the conversation by calling Mayank “a very lazy character”. He elaborated, “I have to always push him to go the extra mile in terms of everything, even if it’s training. He’s the kind of character who likes to go easy on things, but I’m always the one telling him to go that extra mile because I know he’s got immense talent and if he improves his work ethics, he will be a definite player for the Indian team for a long time.”
But Mayank, on the other hand, was quick to respond to the claim. “I’m not lazy, I’m like a normal person like everyone else but I think he (Manan) is extraordinary – I think even extraordinary is also an understatement for him (laughs). So, if you don’t reach his level, then he says I’m lazy, but on a serious note, I really appreciate him showing so much faith in me.”
Talking about Rajasthan Royals’ ambitions and realistic goals for the season, the duo was on the same page for a change, with 28-year-old Manan saying, “As a group, we are all looking to win the trophy. It has been a long time since the franchise has won it, and the best thing is that everyone in our group believes that the team has the potential to make a mark once again. So, we’re aiming for the cup but will be mindful of taking it game by game.” To which, Mayank added, “Our spinners had done a great job in the UAE last year, so I feel we’re back to utilizing our strengths well. We feel really confident going into this phase.”
Summing up his own stint in the first phase of season, Manan stated, “I think my personal experience was good because I had been waiting for this opportunity for two years. I was a little disappointed because I felt I couldn’t capitalize on the starts that I got; however, it means that I had a lot of learnings from those outings and have prepared well for the second leg.”
Meanwhile commenting on not being able to find a spot in the Royals’ team during the first phase, Mayank said he’s “happy to wait for his opportunities and understands that the conditions in India weren’t favouring the spinners too much” but knows that his “chance will come”.
With the second wave of COVID-19 taking India by storm earlier this year, Manan also stated that the period was tough for him too due to a personal loss. “The first two weeks (after IPL) were rough when I went back home because I lost my grandfather to whom I was extremely close, but you have to be strong. I was able to cope up with that, but his memories and teachings are very precious to me and will stay with me forever,” said an emotional Manan.
Meanwhile Mayank, who had started playing IPL at the age of just 20, spoke about how he has transformed into a much more matured bowler now. “When I first started playing IPL, I didn’t have much experience. But when I play now, I feel I’ve matured both as a player and as a person. I think I’m mentally tough now and know how to deal with pressure, and bowl in challenging situations,” said the 23-year-old who had picked up 15 wickets in his debut IPL season in 2018.
Referring to the short boundaries in Sharjah, the youngster also added, “I believe a good ball is a good ball on any ground regardless of how small the boundaries are. It’s cliché but bowling at the right line and length is key at any ground and that’s what we learned last season in the UAE as well. Therefore, we’re hoping our learnings will help us this season.”
Having played one T20I for the Indian team, Mayank added that he “dreams of making a comeback to the Indian team by performing well in the domestic circuit, and then consistently play for the nation at the highest level.”
Whereas, U-19 World Cup winner Manan also added how he intends to use the upcoming season to make a case to the selectors. “Every player on the circuit has the same dream, and so do I. I definitely want to play for the Indian team. I think the upcoming domestic season again gives me a chance to get noticed. I’m playing for Chandigarh now and will be leading them, so I’m confident of taking my team to the latter stages of competitions through good performances, which will help me in making a case,” expressed the right-handed batter who has 1054 runs in 53 IPL matches at a strike-rate of over 130.