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India has always held a special place in my heart: Haseeb Hameed

Haseeb Hameed
Haseeb Hameed. (Photo Source: BCCI)

When Haseeb Hameed was named in the England squad for the tour of India, the 19-year-old was certainly thrilled having received his maiden national call for the tour of the nation he originates from. As soon as he walked out to bat with skipper Alastair Cook, Hameed was able to make a mark for himself and earned a lot of praise for the way he went about the task and his temperament that stood out.

He had to fly back home with a finger fracture but is back in India now to watch his team play the last two Tests. In an interview with DNA, Hameed talked about the experience of playing his maiden series in India and the attention he has been getting since then. “Yeah, the love I have got from the fans and the appreciation have been amazing for me. Something I am very grateful for.”

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Call it destiny or luck he actually made his Test debut in Gujarat, the state his family originates from. “Of course India has always held a special place in my heart, my parents are from here. I knew it would be special coming here to play. Made my debut in the home state (Rajkot, Gujarat) of my parents. It’s something that I believed in faith. That was pure faith and destiny. It’s been amazing the support I have received from the fans. I did something that means a lot to me.” Hameed said.

He underwent a surgery back in England and will be out of action for a couple of months. “I have just had a surgery on Friday. So, I travelled back to England for surgery and I think they mentioned that it will take about six to seven weeks before I will be back to playing again. So, I am sure it will be tough in that period. But for the long term, it’s definitely better for me. Even so, I still believed in whatever so happened is purely for the best for me. I have got something better in store for me because of this injury.”

While the Indian spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja troubled most of the visiting batsmen Hammed played them with a lot of maturity and didn’t let them dictate their terms. “It’s seriously very humbling to hear these words. I can’t say I can put it down to one thing. Again, these things my father has taught me over the years and I have practiced to continue doing that whatever level I play. And thanks to this, it held me in good stead in this series. Something I have really enjoyed. I came here knowing that we are playing against the best side in the world, quality attack.

He also said that it wasn’t easy facing the faster bowlers either who used the conventional as well as reverse swing. Hameed also felt that the Indian team has a very strong bowling attack. “Not only spinners, but Shami and Umesh Yadav and all, which means I had to face the reverse swing and the new ball. You have got a very strong attack. I knew its going to be challenging and something I was relishing, looking forward to. Honestly, I have enjoyed playing in the last few weeks.” He said.

Ravi Ashwin is undoubtedly the best spin bowler in the world at the moment and is bowling in a zone where he is managing to ace the best opposition batsmen at will. “As a cricketer you want challenges. It’s something you have got to enjoy, relish, facing the No.1 bowler in the world, it’s something more than you can ask for in his home conditions. Of course, it’s going to be challenging, that’s where you want to test yourself, that’s why you want to play cricket at the highest level. I really did enjoy it. I think the way which we played him has given me a lot of confidence as well. You know for me to be able to cope with him and not just get overawed by him which obviously gives me a lot of confidence. He is a very good bowler, he took a lot of wickets in this series as well which goes to show that, you know he is still on top of his game and he is very good bowler to face. It’s something that I have enjoyed facing him and will take a lot of confidence from that.”

The best part about the Lancashire batsman is that he is just 19. He has an entire career ahead of him and will certainly lead the batting charge for the England team in the future. Describing himself he said, “I am probably not your average 19-year-old. I have not had a lot of time to dedicate it to my social life in a way. Mainly, because I have tried to dedicate myself to my game, to my cricket. Because of that, I have not had the time to have as much fun as others. Its a small price to pay for me to be here or in India and play the best Test side in the world. I have enjoyed myself doing what I love to do. I don’t see as a regret that I have not lived like a 19-year-old. But I guess it comes with the territory if you want to become an elite sportsman. It is the sacrifices that you have to make.” Hameed concluded.

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