By Niharika Raina
Ahmedabad, Mar 25 (IANS): Right-arm fast bowler Shivam Mavi, who will be turning out for Gujarat Titans' in the 2023 season of the Indian Premier League (IPL), lauded head coach Ashish Nehra for striving to keep a free environment in the side, which enables the players to perform to the best of their abilities.
After working as the bowling coach of Royal Challengers Bangalore in two seasons of the IPL, Nehra was made the head coach of the Titans' ahead of their first foray into the tournament in 2022, which they ended by winning the trophy.
"Honestly, he's very great. He always leaves us free; and says it is up to you, that you have to come to the ground and use the time very well. But if you want to rest, then ask for it. He's like a proper friend like you need something, then speak about it to me or if you are coming to the ground, then work very well."
"Sometimes players feel like I am not feeling too good to practice at the ground, but he doesn't put a burden on it and that you have to do it. As everyone here is a professional, he also understands this thing as he's also played a lot of cricket and is aware of these things. So, he always tries to keep a free environment, and that there is no burden on the players about anything so that they can play very well," said Mavi while replying to a question from IANS in a virtual interaction by the franchise on Saturday.
Mavi, who previously played four seasons of the IPL for the Kolkata Knight Riders, also feels that playing under the leadership of Hardik Pandya will benefit him. Earlier this year, Mavi made his T20I debut for India under Pandya's captaincy and took a four-wicket haul on his debut against Sri Lanka in Mumbai.
As of now, Mavi has picked seven wickets in six T20Is for India at an economy rate of 8.78. "I did well there for India, where Hardik bhai was the captain. Now I am getting to play here, which is a new team. I am very excited to play for Gujarat Titans. Hardik bhai is very helpful and it's going to be very beneficial for me in playing for the Gujarat Titans."
"When I played under him in the Indian team for the first time, he was supportive, which is very important for a player as captain, along with management, is responsible for making a good environment in the team."
Though India lost the second T20I to Sri Lanka by 16 runs in Pune, Mavi earned plaudits for his whirlwind 15-ball 26, hitting two fours and as many sixes. Mavi, 24, stated that he had been working hard on his hitting skills, something which he had been unable to do so before.
"In the last two years, batting has become very important, whether you are playing for the franchise, country or in domestic cricket. In the end, if you get to hit two-three maximums, then it is very great for your team."
"Last two years, I have worked very hard on my batting and it has improved a lot. I am working very hard on this aspect so that I can become as useful as possible for the team, which will be better for the side."
Mavi had been plagued by multiple injuries in his cricketing career. In 2019, a stress fracture of the back ruled him out of the tournament. In 2022, a heel injury had left him underprepared for Knight Riders, which reflected in him picking only five wickets in six matches.
Now, reflecting on that period, Mavi stated he feels very strong fitness-wise, after working hard on specific muscles and gaining an understanding of managing his workload.
"In 2018, I had back-to-back injuries and then missed the 2019 season. This time, I am coming back after playing one full season of domestic cricket as I have worked really hard on my fitness and have focused on how to manage my workload."
"I have been able to play regular cricket as I have been able to maintain that thing. My glutes and core were very weak. So, I have worked hard on it and now I am feeling very strong."
Mavi signed off by refusing to see the tag of defending champions putting pressure on the Titans'.
"Honestly, there is no pressure as such. I had words with the management and there is no word on pressure. The cricket we played last year, where everyone played their roles, will get to play their respective roles this year. But I think the Gujarat Titans have strengthened their bench strength this year."
Gujarat Titans will begin their IPL 2023 campaign against Chennai Super Kings at the Narendra Modi Stadium on March 31.